The Future Is Now: Edward Scott Of ElectrifAi On How Their Technological Innovation Will Shake Up…

The Future Is Now: Edward Scott Of ElectrifAi On How Their Technological Innovation Will Shake Up The Tech Scene

An Interview With Fotis Georgiadis

Focus — you cannot be all things to all people. You need to solve client pain points better, faster, and cheaper than the alternative.

As a part of our series about cutting edge technological breakthroughs, I had the pleasure of interviewing Edward Scott.

Edward Scott is the CEO of ElectrifAi, a leading US-based machine learning software company serving Fortune 500 and mid-sized enterprises. Ed has over 25 years of experience in the technology and private equity sectors. Ed started his career in Drexel Burnham Lambert and joined the Apollo Investment Fund in 1990. Ed was a partner at the Baker Communications Fund and held senior-level positions at Napier Park Global Capital and White Oak Global Advisors. Ed graduated from Columbia University and earned an MBA from the Harvard Business School with second-year honors.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?

I started my career at Apollo and got heavily involved in TMT. That experience led me deeper into tech and helping to invest in and build Akamai and ultimately building Europe’s largest data center business called InterXion. And then finally to machine learning and computer vision at ElectrifAi where we help companies solve enterprise problems with data and pre-built machine learning software solutions.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?

It’s a collection. I have had the great fortune to work in the energy patch, mining industry, private equity industry, and technology industry. This has provided a great perspective. I have seen how these businesses work operationally from the ground floor and how automation, data, computer vision, and machine learning can help these and many other firms optimize quickly and drive margin improvement and cash flow creation.

Can you tell us about the cutting edge technological breakthroughs that you are working on? How do you think that will help people?

We are helping “productize” machine learning software solutions primarily for Tier 1 and Tier 2 companies that struggle with data. We help them turn data into a strategic weapon to solve basic enterprise problems (drive more revenue, cut costs, and optimize operations). We have automated the data and machine pipelines and brought to the market relevant pre-built machine learning software solutions that are easy to deploy in any cloud environment or on-premise if necessary. These pre-built solutions leverage all of the domain expertise we have captured dealing with large, global Tier 1 companies over the years in multiple verticals. The Tier 2 can take advantage of the same solutions as the big players and turn their data finally into a competitive weapon. Think about it as productizing machine learning.

How do you think this might change the world?

Tier 2 companies face an existential moment. Become a data-driven organization or face falling even further behind competitively or worse — perish. The trouble is how to achieve this given a world where data engineers and data scientists are in short supply or when your organization struggles with data engineering, data quality and machine learning. We have scaled those mountains, so our clients don’t have to. Clients can leverage our data expertise and automation, vertical domain knowledge, and pre-built machine learning software solutions.

Keeping “Black Mirror” in mind, can you see any potential drawbacks about this technology that people should think more deeply about?

I don’t. Our solutions are based on open source, and we show clients exactly how and why our solutions work. No black boxes.

Was there a “tipping point” that led you to this breakthrough? Can you tell us that story?

We saw Tier 1 companies struggling with data: data acquisition, data relevance, data quality, model creation, performance, accuracy deployment, monitoring, and management. These are the foundations that drive downstream ML performance and accuracy. And we felt if the Tier 1 players struggled, then the lift in Tier 2 must be extraordinary indeed. That’s when the light bulb went off to productize and automate this as much as possible and help the Tier 2 accelerate and catch up.

What do you need to lead this technology to widespread adoption?

A compelling value proposition: We will solve your basic business problems (top-line growth, cost reduction, and operational optimization) leveraging data (first party and third party), automation of the data pipeline, domain expertise, and pre-built machine learning solutions. All in 6–8 weeks. It’s all about compelling ROI and time to value. Our clients need results now and cannot afford to suffer long, expensive engagements associated with large systems integration firms.

What have you been doing to publicize this idea? Have you been using any innovative marketing strategies?

Starting with Medium and other world-class outlets. Let the customer success stories do the talking.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

My father taught me the value of discipline and hard work. He started as a professional hockey player who grew up in very modest circumstances in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn. Imagine that. Tough guy but humble. He persevered despite trying circumstances, got a hockey scholarship to a D-1 school, and played professionally for a short time before heading to law school and business — ultimately becoming a senior executive at one of the US’ largest life sciences firms. He taught by example: perseverance, humility, and loyalty. Other than that — all the original leaders of Apollo (current and former). And finally, Michael Hoffman (Smith Barney, Blackstone, and Riverstone). All tough, fair, and incredible mentors. Friends still to this day.

How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?

I tutored math and science in the Bronx as part of the City Squash program. 1–2x per week focusing on the kids who had little confidence and whose families were struggling. I prioritized this over my busy travel schedule at a p/e firm. Very rewarding. All the kids I worked with got scholarships and that’s on to college.

What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started” and why.

1. Focus — you cannot be all things to all people. You need to solve client pain points better, faster, and cheaper than the alternative.

2. Focus on cash. Cash is the oxygen of any firm. Companies that control their destiny survive.

3. If something isn’t working, tear the problem apart using First Principles to find a better way and don’t be afraid to pivot.

4. Hire the best people and get out of the way.

5. Stay humble.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

The next great entrepreneurs will come from unexpected places, not the wealthy zip codes or the fancy Ivy League colleges. Sorry, Harvard and Columbia! We need to bring an understanding of data and coding into the grade schools at very early stages, prioritize and let the creative process begin. The future of the US depends on it.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

“Sell your cleverness and buy bewilderment” (Jalaluddin Rumi 13th C). The basic point is to embrace curiosity and lifelong learning. In other words, always be inquisitive and humble.

Some very well-known VCs read this column. If you had 60 seconds to make a pitch to a VC, what would you say? He or she might just see this if we tag them :-).

We provide pre-built machine learning and computer vision software solutions that solve basic enterprise problems around demand forecasting, Dynamic Pricing, Spend Optimization, Contract NLP, Customer Engagement (new client acquisition, retention and product cross sell up sell etc.). This is high margin Annual Subscription (ARR) model. We drive operating leverage by (i) going to market mainly through GSI, cloud, platform, RPA, BPM and consulting partners, (ii) focusing on certain verticals, and (iii) re-using solution IP across the globe. We do this today for large global Tier 1 financial services firms, retailers, manufacturers, energy and petrochemical firms, and universities. We are now bringing this same capability to global Tier 2 firms. This is a very large market. Tier 2 firms understand the importance of data but lack the necessary data engineering and data science resources to realize the benefits of data and machine learning and to become a data driven organization. We can help the Tier 2 firms to cross this data chasm and accelerate with pre-built machine learning solutions. And we can leverage our data expertise to show them how to build data pipelines, focus on relevant data, and establish clean data consistently. It’s all about time to value and high ROI. Our solutions plug into any data platform and are deployable in any cloud or as part of any RPA or BPM orchestration. Becoming data-driven shouldn’t be so daunting for companies. We help make that a reality. And we are free cash flow break even. As one large VC in CT said to me: “free cash flow break-even? We haven’t heard those words in 10 years”. 😊

How can our readers follow you on social media?

https://www.linkedin.com/in/edward-scott-74354923/

Thank you so much for joining us. This was very inspirational.


The Future Is Now: Edward Scott Of ElectrifAi On How Their Technological Innovation Will Shake Up… was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

Meet The Disruptors: Jeff Charney Of MKHSTRY On The Five Things You Need To Shake Up Your Industry

An Interview With Fotis Georgiadis

Parading your clients in the media is just a self-serving and back-handed way for MKHSTRY and any agency to acquire new clients. Because we’re an invite-only collective that already has enough business, we don’t have to be a slave to that circular process.

As a part of our series about business leaders who are shaking things up in their industry, I had the pleasure of interviewing Jeff Charney.

Jeff Charney, the “Ad Age 2021 Brand Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) of the Year,” is a high-energy innovator and founder of MKHSTRY, a disruptive invite-only marketing industry collective, focused on helping companies, brands and individuals make “history” through code-cracking ideas. The company’s scarcity model approach is unique in any industry — especially in the marketing industry. Charney has stuck to his “history speaks louder than words” mantra by not granting any in-depth interviews since his new business was announced in late February 2022.

The former CMO of Progressive Insurance, Charney was responsible for developing a range of brand icons including the perky salesclerk “Flo” and the parental-life coach, “Dr. Rick.” In addition to character creation, Progressive quadrupled its marketing budget, becoming the nation’s #3 spender according to Ad Age. Also, during his time as CMO of Aflac, he was the boss of the annoying, yet widely known Aflac Duck. He and his teams have received more than 100 national and international marketing and creative awards. Charney was also named “Brand Genius: Top Marketer of the Year” by Adweek Magazine in 2011 and has a track record of success at driving bottom-line results across three decades of work, which includes QVC and startup Homestore.com (parent of Realtor.com) now Move.com.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! We know you don’t do many of these types of in-depth interviews. Before we dig in, our readers would like to get to know you a bit more. Can you tell us a bit about your “backstory”? What led you to this career path?

I grew up in rural South Carolina, but oddly enough, my love for Ohio State University quite possibly ignited my early passion for marketing. While my childhood friends cheered for Clemson or the University of South Carolina, I was all in with the Buckeyes. Their football helmets caught my initial interest because I noticed they were a little too plain. Maybe it was a subconscious early marketing challenge.

My Dad explained that players earned Buckeye stickers for their on-field achievements. It was early in the season so obviously the helmets were blank, waiting to be adorned with Buckeye stickers. I was ready for the transformation. All it took was a few games and those helmets suddenly morphed, gaining more and more Buckeye stickers, which really demanded fan attention.

I think that somewhat disruptive Ohio State aesthetic planted the idea of what you could do to engage people with a little creativity … and stickers.

And how did you apply those “Buckeyes” throughout your career?

As I’ve moved through my life, I’ve used that simple sticker example as added motivation to help track my achievements:

Accept a fellowship at Ohio State and graduate with honors with a Master of Arts in journalism? That’s a Buckeye sticker.

The first national brand launch at QVC when I was senior vice president and CMO? That’s a Buckeye sticker.

Join Aflac, where I took a second look at modernizing that plain white Aflac duck? That’s a Buckeye sticker.

Go to Progressive Insurance and be compelled to develop “Flo” into a more relevant personality as well as develop a dozen more characters to complement her? Sticker.

It’s about making something more appealing, authentic, and relatable.

Marketing is everything and everything is marketing; I just didn’t know it when I was 11. Even this year, in an odd way, “history repeated itself” when, many years later, my son was accepted to Ohio State, starting in the fall as — drumroll please — a marketing major! Sometimes life takes you full circle.

Can you tell our readers what it is about the work you’re doing that’s disruptive?

I truly believe that everyone is one idea away from making history. If you really grasp that point, you can understand why I’m so intent on disrupting and modernizing the marketing industry. I structured this national marketing collective to work with very brave, invitation-only corporations, advertising agency leaders, and individuals who are ready to accelerate an idea that may just have been sitting there. Maybe it’s a transformative idea they haven’t even had yet.

Do you know that at the time the pandemic started (over two years ago), marketing firms and ad agencies were still operating with essentially the same service model that was developed back in 1869 by Francis Ayer, who started the first advertising agency, N.W. Ayer & Son. That’s a whopping 153 years ago and the industry still abides by Ayer’s 15% commission model. This is a $300 billion industry that needs to be disrupted — in a good way.

We need to get people to evolve, and we need to do it quickly. We need to turn those traditional print, radio, TV, and digital marketing models on their heads and speak creatively in ways that engage and include more people, more ideas, and more communities. We also need to complement these existing mediums using modern technology, like the blockchain, Web3, crypto, NFT, and the metaverse to get us there.

How do you get companies to change their mindset into not only doing great results-oriented marketing but also to getting over the high bar of making history?

It’s not easy and it really is a journey of change. To help people reach that point, I created a simple 4-C focused approach:

  1. Coaching the new game-changing model and mindset — immersive speaking “with” clients/audiences and not “at” them; plus
  2. Consolidating the existing external agency model with the formation of an innovative internal/in-house model; plus
  3. Code-cracking creative between the two entities, applying the modern-day blockchain and Web3 principles; equals
  4. The fourth C, Cultural relevance in the external market, balanced with internal cultural impact among existing — and potential — employees and customers.

The most important “C” that’s not included above is CHANGE. Unfortunately, no matter what people might profess, they’re just not open to it — either professionally or personally. And in order to really be open to making history, you have to really be open to changing yourself, your brand, your company and ultimately your industry.

In the most simplistic terms, MKHSTRY is part accelerator/lab for industry-changing ideas, part creative partner/agency catalyst, and part lifestyle brand. It’s a hybrid for 2022 and beyond. It’s the perfect model for the new virtual “in-home” agency world.

Can you share a story about one of the toughest mistakes you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

I will give you my tough dilemma, but you’re going to have to “wait for it” … while I give you a bit of background.

The MKHSTRY collective is unique in that it operates as an invitation-only model. Before us, companies looked for creative agency partners by submitting detailed, extensive, and expensive Request for Proposals (RFPs). Then, they would use fee-laden matchmaking firms to lead a search which can sometimes take 6 to 12 months. MKHSTRY turns this model on its head by doing just the opposite. We look for a good area of disruptive “white space” and spend weeks combing through companies and individuals based on the breakthrough approach that we as a collective offer. Then, we send a detailed correspondence to the company CEO or the key decision maker within the company.

It’s the simple scarcity model. We figured that scarcity would scare most people off, but it did just the opposite and within the first week we received hundreds of invitations from brands, individuals, and companies wanting to “get-in” and get an invitation. We never expected it, but we’ve become a modern-day version of Studio 54, which is exciting, yet daunting all at once.

For a small start-up like us, that kind of dam-breaking reaction was almost the equivalent of our internet servers going down. Right after launch, we had to “turn off” all media interviews (and we have maintained that stance except for this one) and social because the demand was too great. We responded to as many requests for invites as we could and when people didn’t like the answer they received, they went to my social channels and pinged me there. When they still didn’t like the answer, they went even further, somehow finding my cell number and trying to reach me there. The cycle continues. We’ve had to be very reactive and explain to them why they weren’t brave enough for our model, but in the long run, we are still meeting some good folks and learning a lot.

So, you’ve turned the industry on its head by interviewing your potential clients rather than have them interview you. Is there an analogy you use to explain this approach?

MKHSTRY’s client acquisition approach is like searching for your lifelong mate. We want a relationship that is long-lasting because we don’t want to have a messy creative “divorce.” Divorce hurts the “kids” (your staff), the “family” (your brand), and the industry (your business). You can’t marry everyone — we’re in search of the right one and we have a proprietary way to find that match which I will go into later.

We all need a little help along the journey. Who have been some of your mentors? Can you share a story about how they made an impact?

I’ve had wonderful mentors at different stages in my career, but the one who most likely helped me the most was Bruce Karatz, chairman of a large homebuilder, KB Home. It was very early in my career and when I started with KB, I was their head of communications. He told me that if I was as “creative as I appeared to be” that one day I could leave all the PR pitching behind and become the company’s CMO.

A few weeks into my career he quickly proved good on his promise. He called me into his office and offered me the “brass ring” of the CMO job. Rather than holding my hand through the transition process, he said that he trusted me to figure it out and then the next day he went on a business trip to France for a month. He knew exactly what he was doing. I didn’t want my hand held and knew he didn’t want to hold it. Even though I failed early and often, I knew my boss always had my back in the process.

For more than 25 years, I’ve held the top job as a CMO. I’ve never wanted nor required a hand holder and I lead my team in the same way.

In today’s parlance, being disruptive is usually a positive adjective. But is disrupting always good? When do we say the converse, that a system or structure has “withstood the test of time”? Can you articulate to our readers when disrupting an industry is positive, and when disrupting an industry is ‘not so positive’? Can you share some examples of what you mean?

Those are great questions and really speak to why I have formulated the MKHSTRY collective. My belief is almost every industry can and should be disrupted and you can test me on that belief. We need to make new history, not live in the systems and structures of the past. We are constantly evolving as humans and so should the way we express ourselves.

I think of the example I gave earlier of the marketing/ad agency approach that is 153 years old and still in practice today. Come on — that is just not acceptable — especially for a person who loves the industry as much as I do. Additionally, the pandemic rocked that existing system to its core with the work from home movement. MKHSTRY will work only with courageous corporate leaders, visionary agencies, and firms to maximize remote work productivity and modernize their aging traditional business models — helping them adapt to the new creator economy, blockchain, Web3, and Metaverse worlds. Either you make history, or you will be history — it’s that simple.

That’s the good news. As I stated before, what started as a simple “invite-only business” has ballooned into a modern-day version of Studio 54. The response has been overwhelming with everyone trying to get beyond the velvet rope to work with me and my “Oceans 11” virtual team. It really shows that there is a problem with the old way of doing marketing and that our company offers the more modern way to get historic results. But you must be brave.

On the negative side, you can’t just jump on the disruptive bandwagon for the sake of disruption. The block chain crypto craze is the perfect example. It became the trendy thing to do, and people ran in with their hair on fire, trying to crash in and cash in without knowing what they were getting into. Some did well, but unfortunately many lost their life savings in the process. Don’t follow the disruption trend without having the disruptive gene in your DNA. If you’re lucky enough to be a first-mover and lead the trend, great. After that, be deliberate and measured in your research, approach, and ultimately action.

Can you share five stories of the best words of advice you’ve gotten along your journey? Please give a story or example for each.

Huge question. Rather than just talk about pieces of advice that I might find out of a self-help lecture or textbook, I will give you five “original” pieces of advice that I continually give myself now and through the years.

The first is “Why Not?” This came indirectly from my Mom, who was a teacher in rural South Carolina. As a kid, I was probably a little too worried about academics and I studied A LOT. I remember in the 4th grade, I was over-studying for a simple spelling bee. My mother drove me to school that day and as I got out of the car, I asked her, in an insecure, sheepish, kind of way, “Mom, do you think I will win today’s spelling bee?” My mother took a long drag out of her cigarette (which unfortunately was normal in those days), looked at me, and said, quite simply, “Why not? You’ve done the work in studying for it. Why not just go win it?”

Although it wasn’t the most motivational thing I could hear at that time, it still impacted me. When I was up on that spelling bee stage, I thought about it and fortunately the preparation paid off and I actually won! Now, I apply those two words every day. If somebody’s going to win, it might as well be me, my teams, or my brands, because I’ve come in well prepared — having already “done the work.”

The second is “Outcreate not Outspend.” I know my strengths and I know my weaknesses. I’m never going to be the absolute smartest person in the room, but I AM going to be the most creative. It’s what I’ve always done. It’s who I am. It’s easy to throw money at a problem–it’s tougher to outcreate your way out of a situation.

Sure, as a CMO I believe in the “science” around the data, but I believe much more in the “art” of my creative instincts and judgment that have been well-honed over 20-plus years as a Fortune 500 CMO. I know I go against the grain of my CMO colleagues by over-indexing on the “art,” but that’s part of the reason why our teams have been so successful. We deeply understand human insights and we quickly get things in the market today, by making decisions today vs. waiting on the data to eventually come in sometime in the future.

“Relevance” — It’s THE most important nine-letter word in marketing. The minute you are not relevant is the minute you need to hit the eject button and rocket yourself out of marketing. Just like you exercise every day to keep your body healthy, you better find some creative regimen to stay relevant.

“Fire yourself” — Huh? When you find yourself getting complacent; when you find yourself starting to settle; when you find yourself not being as relevant as you should be, look in the mirror and say, “Jeff…you’re fired.” Then the next day when you go back in, think about what you would do starting a new job as Jeff Charney, replacing yourself as Jeff Charney. Let the “fire yourself” concept marinate for a bit — really understand it. It will change you and give you that kick in the butt that you need — I do it every 12–18 months.

“Don’t change. Be.” I’ve always been a square peg in a round hole. All the times that I’ve tried to really “fit in” hasn’t worked for me. I just wasn’t myself. “Fitting in’’ was like me wearing a suit and tie to work when I really wanted to wear sweats. Once I became comfortable with being me and had secure enough bosses that let me be me, was when my career really started to take off. There’s never been a better time in marketing to be a “square peg” round hole than right now. It’s literally the “Roaring 20s of Marketing” right now with blockchain and Web3 technology helping to rewrite the marketing world. Maximize it!

We are sure you aren’t done. How are you going to shake things up next?

We’ve developed the proprietary MKHSTRY Index (MHI), a pre-engagement mutual bravery barometer index that gauges client/agency risk tolerance, relevance, flexibility, and ability to evaluate and perpetuate change. I’ve refined it over two decades, and it has proven highly effective in identifying and inspiring “one idea away” clients and developing launch-ready concepts. For the right clients, the MHI is the absolute best thing that could happen and for the wrong clients, it’s the absolute worst. It’s already a game-changing tool and we continue to refine the MHI to increase its pinpoint accuracy.

On a lighter scale, we also created the MKHSTRY Hybrid Line of clothing designed for the way we work today. The clothes are comfortable meant to last through history and to make a strong, simple long-lasting fashion statement about who we are and how we manifest our creativity. It’s not only a great company, but a great brand and we’re still searching for the right brave clothing partner to upend the fashion world. The hybrid line will also operate with the scarcity model. Only a few pieces of clothing exist now and will for the foreseeable future. Finally, in all of this, I will be shaking things up by asking folks to join me in giving back to our communities. A portion of the proceeds from the Hybrid Line will go to the national Little Free Library, which is a nonprofit organization focused on expanding book access, creating history by inspiring young readers.

Who are your earliest and bravest clients and is there a specific case study you and is there a sneak peek you can share with us and our readership?

This is a seemingly easy question and let me unpack my broader, more provocative answer.

People always ask me, who are you working with…who are your clients…has anyone passed the MHI, etc.? When can I see the work and when will you release it to the marketing trade press, etc.?

“History is always in the making” and, trust me, we always have something up our sleeve…and we have a lot of sleeves. However, part of that history is just letting it happen without necessarily beating your chest about it.

I’ll tell you now, one of the countless and controversial differences between us and any other creative firm on the planet is that we have a “No Megaphone Rule” about the pre- and post-business we do for our clients. As a scarcity brand, we operate just like the movie “Fight Club.” For those of you familiar with the cult classic: “The first rule of Fight Club is…don’t talk about Fight Club.”

Why not talk about your clients and your work? Isn’t one of the 4Ps of marketing, Promotion?

There are four simple reasons we operate with this “Fight Club” philosophy.

First, parading your clients in the media is just a self-serving and back-handed way for MKHSTRY and any agency to acquire new clients. Because we’re an invite-only collective that already has enough business, we don’t have to be a slave to that circular process.

Second, this kind of promotion allows the creative agency to take the chest-beating credit for overall agency-client partnership accomplishments. You’re only as good as your client direction and we drive a no-bragging “team first” approach.

Third, explaining your campaign strategy and creative details in the media just gives too much of an alert and a playbook for your competitors. All that self-promotion is an ancient relic left over from the fictional bravado of Don Draper and the Mad-Men days where confidentiality wasn’t in their vocabulary. Draper is dead and so should the “work and tell” practice.

Still, it’s probably the single and hardest thing for me and my team NOT to burst out and talk about the work we do for our clients on a 24–7 basis.

Which brings up the fourth and final reason. Quite simply, we’ve talked to countless clients and when pressed–they just don’t want it. They never liked it, but it was just another assumed client mandatory practice to “keep the agency partners happy.” I wish other agencies would stop this practice and realize what a competitive advantage a “no megaphone” philosophy could be for them. It definitely has been for us.

Our clients are paying us to do work that will make history. If one day, they choose to talk about it, that’s great. It’s their story to tell. Us running to the media to scream and shout, is just not what we do now, nor what we’ll ever do.

Again, your “Fight Club/No Megaphone” philosophy is disruptive and a very complex thing to understand. Could you relate this to a simpler analogy?

You could equate this to going to an exclusive night club with a velvet rope. If you’re in, you’re in. The club does not reveal who else is on that list alongside you, nor do they share that you got entry with the rest of the people attempting to gain access themselves. People just want to go to the club, be left alone and to have a good time. We will do the same and choose not to share this private information about our clients.

Finally, if you can’t relate to the club analogy, go way back to the ancient Chinese proverb. Those who know don’t talk. Those who talk don’t know.

History does speak louder than words…and people. Trust me, everyone will get the “credit” when history is made.

Do you have a book, podcast, or talk that’s had a deep impact on your thinking? Can you share a story with us? Can you explain why it was so resonant with you?

First, I’m definitely a recovering pop culture junkie. I have a rack of four televisions outside of my office going all the time. Podcasts are on nonstop and I’m constantly skimming as many forms of news and entertainment as humanly possible.

But for now, I’ll focus on books. I’ll share one that’s very old that I always return to and one that is relatively new that I constantly apply in a more tactical way.

As far as older books go, Joseph Campbell’s “The Hero with a Thousand Faces” is a true classic. It’s heavy narrative, but as marketers, we are all first and foremost, story tellers. The “hero’s journey” that takes place in the book is the foundation and a touchstone for many of our stories today. Many of the great epic stories that exist — from Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter, Star Wars, Wizard of Oz, and on have their roots in that hero’s journey. The same patterns apply to modern-day movies, theater, and pop culture. Finally, for me, it says clearly that we are all heroes in the making, always on that journey of transformation, always changing, always evolving, always existing way out of our comfort zone to fulfill that inner call. It inspires me to this day and is the foundation of my three favorite six letter words: G-R-O-W-T-H, B-E-T-T-E-R, and C-H-A-N-G-E.

A more tactical book that has really influenced me was Michael Farmer’s Madison Avenue Manslaughter, which is a sobering read and for anybody in marketing. Whether you agree with Farmer and the book’s title or not, it is a real wake-up call for all of us in the marketing and advertising field. For me though, it made the problem we all face much more vivid. Rather than keep whining about the problem, I started MKHSTRY to really do something about it.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

My most inspirational quote comes from perhaps the person who in my opinion is the greatest and yet most controversial marketer of all time, Muhammad Ali. It’s very simple — only ten words — but it speaks to me.

Here goes: “If your dreams don’t scare you, they’re not big enough.” Just think about that and it goes back to the roots of MKHSTRY. You really can’t be brave without fear.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be?

Quite simply, I know it sounds a little too soft, lofty, and overly-motivational, but I try to live this.

I just wish I could inspire people to really reach their full potential and be their best selves — whoever and whatever that may be. To do that, unfortunately, sometimes they just need to find a way to get out of their own way. It’s not their boss, their spouse, their company that’s holding them back; it’s themselves. There’s no blame game here. Period.

And when we took all the vowels out of MKHSTRY…in exact order, A, E, I, O — the only one that was left out was U. That’s when it hit me. U is the only thing holding folks from making history. U is one thing within our control. Once you realize that, you’ll never be the same. Once you realize that, you’ll also realize that we’re not getting any of this time back. Once you realize that, you’ll make every moment of your life count. It’s simple stuff, but you must be committed to it. If you do, it’s amazing what you can really accomplish.

Even in our name, we disrupt. Nearly all of the older, traditional agencies are someone’s name: (i.e., Ogilvy, Burnett, Fallon, Chiatt-Day, Hal Riney & Partners, on and on.) These were all pioneers, but they all unfortunately passed away. Our name is who we are. Our name is what we do. It will live on forever. We make history–and just as we have modernized an old word, we’ll modernize an old industry. It’s really exciting!

How can our readers follow you online?

Thank you so much for taking the time to get all of this out of my system. Your questions seem simple, but they forced me to really dig deep as I am the one usually on the offensive in asking the tough questions. And they’ve prompted so many new ideas for me.

Readers can find me through my website but can also connect with me on Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram. Still, as mentioned in our “no megaphone rule” about client confidentiality, realize that there are some things I CAN say on those channels, but many things I just can’t. With an invite-only and scarcity model, you have to live by the sword and die by the sword, so I hope your readers can understand. Bottom line, we have a high bar and our team is incredibly busy. History is always in the making and our team is committed to continually making history. When it happens, the work will speak for itself. You’ll see.

Thanks so much.

This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for joining us!


Meet The Disruptors: Jeff Charney Of MKHSTRY On The Five Things You Need To Shake Up Your Industry was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

Mark Homza Of Funday Agency On Five Things You Need To Build A Trusted And Beloved Brand

An Interview With Fotis Georgiadis

Authenticity is something consumers crave these days. Anyone can sell a product or market a service but being authentic in the process helps customers not only relate to the individuals behind the concepts but the products and services in a new way. People don’t buy products, they buy people, experiences, and feelings.

As a part of our series about how to create a trusted, believable, and beloved brand, I had the pleasure to interview Mark Homza.

Mark Homza is the Co-CEO and Co-Founder of creative storytelling and global marketing ecosystem, Funday. Previously known as Flixel, the hollywood-loved company known for re-defining photography through Cinemagraphs (also known as “living photos”), Mark is now working to future-proof brands through world-class storytelling. Built to lead companies in the Web3 space, Mark and Funday breathe, live and understand the inner workings of what it means to be a Web3 company because they are one. Mark is a prosumer and pioneer with a proven track record and has used this expertise to successfully grow and scale notable, global brands and the Funday ecosystem.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?

While I was growing up in Montreal, Quebec, I always had a desire to see the world. I wanted to experience different cultures and contribute to society. It was important to me to be surrounded by brilliant people who were shaping and changing the world as we know it. Initially, I thought being a musician was the career path for me. Musicians get to go on tour and travel the globe. When I realized only around 0.01% of artists become successful I knew those odds were not in my favor, so I decided to pivot. I looked towards entrepreneurship and creating companies, which at the time, had about a 4% success rate. I have always had a creative mindset and I knew if I was going to do any shaping of the culture or contribute to this world I’d have to create things from scratch. And so that’s what I did. When I was 24 years old, I met Phil LeBlanc. We started our first company together, a health and wellness business. That’s when and where it all started.

Can you share a story about the funniest marketing mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

When we first launched our app, Flixel, it hit 100,000 downloads in 21 days. Right from the start, it was a major success and so the initial push into the market was quite impressive. We received tons of organic press and thought we were set. Unfortunately, doing this a second time with version two of the Flixel app, didn’t go so well. We didn’t put our best foot forward in terms of providing a more in-depth product or any enhanced messaging. We assumed that because we had been carried by that initial wave and presence in the market that anything following would have win public attention, which ultimately just wasn’t the case. That was a good lesson. You constantly have to bring world-class content into the process no matter what stage you are in within the business development process. You can never sit around with what you did yesterday to carry you through. It was a good reminder that you have to continuously follow up and have relevance. If you don’t have substance, you’re going to be ignored.

What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?

I think what makes us stand out is our entrepreneurialism. It’s the entrepreneur or entrepreneur mindset all of us have that makes us so special. The distinguishing fact is that we can practice and be ourselves in the shoes of a decision-maker as well as a leader when we work with early-stage startups or Series B. There’s a certain genuine authenticity — how we connect and how we understand one another because of our experience. Having empathy is critical and it’s a rare thing to learn to do while being in the driver’s seat. The pioneering sort of mindset has enabled us to again become synonymous with an up-and-coming challenger type industry, the web 3.0 space. And so that’s a reflection of the type of clients we have. It creates a certain degree of separation because even within that space, we’ve been very successful. Everyone is growing and trying to change the “status quo”. People are trying to redefine what organizations are going to look like via DAO’s or even what the financial system is. Web 3.0 is the next wave of the internet’s biggest change since web 1.0, so to speak. Entrepreneurialism becomes the core varying separator for us.

Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?

The most exciting project that is underway is gmgn supply co, the very first consumer packaged goods CPG) DAO (decentralized autonomous organization). It takes a very democratic approach to the consumer packaged goods industry. The goal of gmgn is to bringmore transparency, healthier products, and mindfulness of the environment to the industry. And so, with the introduction of gmgn, specifically through the structure of a DAO , we’re trying to experiment with the changing organizational culture and processes and governance. gmgn supply co is a web3 business model where members of the DAO are owners and can vote on major decisions from what they eat to what products are being sold and/or marketed. gmgn is well-understood Web3 speak for good morning and good night and it broadly represents the sense of unity that’s been cultivated between web3 natives in the new, borderless, and hyper-connected world. In addition to community participation via the DAO, gmgn will foster Web3 collaboration with each brand it develops. Every box of gm Cereal will include rewards, like an NFT, token airdrop, merch, or collaboration to further fuel community participation.

Ok let’s now jump to the core part of our interview.

In a nutshell, how would you define the difference between brand marketing (branding) and product marketing (advertising)? Can you explain?

Branding is what your company believes in, how consumers feel about the product or services, and why it exists in the first place. Branding is the story. Marketing is how you sell your product or services. You can’t successfully have good marketing without building a good brand. You need each to work hand in hand with each other to achieve optimal success.

Can you explain to our readers why it is important to invest resources and energy into building a brand, in addition to the general marketing and advertising efforts?

Building a brand is important to long-term success and growth. To build a business, you HAVE to build a brand. Having a brand that is credible and real will make marketing and advertising easier. Your brand will tap into the emotions of your customers and reach more people. With such a competitive market, you need something that makes you stand out in the crowd. Having a recognizable brand including a logo, a key message and a mission can be the difference between success and failure. Your brand should represent you, your employees, and what you stand for. This is something worth investing in. The brand is the first step in the equation. You can’t funnel dollars into marketing and advertising before you develop who you are.

Can you share 5 strategies that a company should be doing to build a trusted and believable brand? Please tell us a story or example for each. ✅

Communication: Do you have constant communication with your community? The only way to build a community is to communicate and be accessible. The key to success here is engagement. Creating good conversation and dialogue is crucial for growth. Making sure someone is accessible to answer questions, solve problems or talk through solutions is something you will need to have in place. There are different strategies within this vertical to ensure your customers are happy, connected, and engaged.

Transparency: Operating in a way that’s as transparent as possible is another fantastic strategy. It is important to share how you operate, who you are, your brand mission, who you are targeting, and what your goals are. These key factors will help you reach the correct customers and clients.

Authenticity: Authenticity is something consumers crave these days. Anyone can sell a product or market a service but being authentic in the process helps customers not only relate to the individuals behind the concepts but the products and services in a new way. People don’t buy products, they buy people, experiences, and feelings.

Honesty: Be honest. You have to implement honesty when you’re developing a brand. Like authenticity, honesty is something people also need to have. When there are issues, consumers want straightforward answers. This also helps them feel a little more empathy and compassion. Being truthful is crucial for any business or brand.

Consistency: Consistency is key. This relates to almost everything in life. The more you start being consistent the more successful you will be. If you work out consistently you will see results. If you practice a skill consistently you will improve. This goes for branding as well. The more you stay on your targeting brand the more aligned you will be with your audience. Sticking to key messaging is important. This allows consumers to recognize your brand for exactly what it is. The longer you are established as a certain “brand” the more credible you will be.

My key to long-term success was to stay on track and stay consistent. I find for a lot of young entrepreneurs, will fall off and stop pushing ahead. It’s very, very tough. But, one of the most important parts of developing a successful brand.

In your opinion, what is an example of a company that has done a fantastic job building a believable and beloved brand. What specifically impresses you? What can one do to replicate that?

From a brand perspective, Apple and Tesla have both done a tremendous job. When you look at Tesla, the company hasn’t done any type of traditional marketing whatsoever. But why is it so relevant? They have a CEO that has a flair for being in the public eye but the company itself acts almost as its own marketing vehicle. It has become synonymous with this idea of the green movement, electric vehicles, and the automotive industry as a whole. When you think about electric cars you don’t think of anything other than Tesla. You know that’s extremely, extremely powerful. For a company that hasn’t done any traditional advertising yet, it has such a profound place in the market — it’s impressive.

When it comes to Apple, we all know they put a lot of money into their campaigns. If you don’t have any money, it’s tough. You have to be smart in terms of how do you capture everyone’s attention? Everyone’s eyes are on social and digital platforms. If you’re starting up and you don’t have a lot of money, it makes it more of a challenge to get the attention you may need to thrive. Do you have a product with innovative capabilities or features? Does your product or service have that you can tie it to some form of movement, some form of change or can it make a significant contribution to the market. Will it get some journalists or get some folks interested to say they need to cover this because something new is happening. At the end of the day, if you don’t have a product that fixes a problem in the marketplace, or has a new twist or take on something else, it’s going to be difficult. If you’re going to try to compete and win something in a market that’s saturated, it’s going to be hard.

In advertising, one generally measures success by the number of sales. How does one measure the success of a brand-building campaign? Is it similar, or is it different?

When you measure a brand-building campaign you don’t usually base the success on sales metrics like the number of leads brought in or ROI. Ultimately it will lead to sales but brand-building campaigns are about brand recognition, creating awareness that you exist and about what you stand for. The KPI’s or “Key Performance Indicators” look like website visits, clicks, downloads, a low bounce rate, and time spent on individual webpages. This is a good way to gauge if people are curious, looking you up, or interested in more information. Another way to measure is by social channels. How many views is your post getting? Are your posts being shared? Commented on and engaged with? Social media is a natural way to measure performance. Lastly, if you have an app then you can measure the number of downloads, retention rate, session lengths, and reviews. Technology is evolving fast and these days there are dozens of ways to measure success without seeing “sales”.

What role does social media play in your branding efforts?

Social media plays a major role in branding efforts and should never be underestimated or overlooked. Social platforms can help you develop your brand identity and also connect you with customers. Social platforms allow you to approach people in a more natural way and engage in a two-way conversation stream. Social media posts can also be conversation starters and be used, shared, and leveraged to again, help measure your KPI’s. You have to be careful with what you post on social media but if used correctly it can boost your brand in amazing ways.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger.

You are what you eat. This is something that people say but can be rooted in goodness and longevity if addressed. I have always been passionate about the food and beverage space, especially in recent years. Many people turn to processed products for convenience and rarely choose healthy options because frankly there are not that many out there. Companies have to do a better job. As a civilization, we also have to be more responsible with what lands on our store shelves or gets delivered to doors. In many ways, that’s the mission of gmgn supply co. We decided to create an organization that says, hey, we’re putting better food out in the marketplace while society is moving faster than ever before. We want to provide better options and an overall better experience.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

“What you feed grows.”

As an entrepreneur, in the areas where I’ve consistently nurtured my career, there’s been a tremendous amount of growth. Despite challenges and many obstacles, which is par for the course, what helped me grow was continuously being consistent and feeding my career. Even in the face of tremendous obstacles, such as the pandemic to facing challenges as early entrepreneurs during the Flixel days, and near bankruptcy, we always pushed ahead. These types of issues coupled with trying to find our product-market fit, trying to survive and live out the dream without giving up — was a true test and is also what showed us we were able to succeed. This doesn’t just apply to entrepreneurship, it applies to all aspects of your life. It applies to those relationships that are important to you; if you feed them they will grow and get better with time. Growth is at the core of any healthy relationship and that translates back into the business. What I’ve seen with such clarity is that a lot of our success over the years, has been a byproduct of community, it has been a byproduct of getting certain access and getting access to certain individuals and communities and people. All of that comes from fostering relationships. And so you have to seed your new yourself to get yourself better.

We are blessed that very prominent leaders in business and entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world with whom you would like to have lunch or breakfast with? He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them. 🙂 ✅

It would be interesting to sit down with Elon Musk and get a sense of what is truly going on. If I sat down with him I wouldn’t speak at him or to him but try to get as much of his perspective and insight as possible. I want to know what got him here and what major challenges he’s overcome. He would be a fascinating person to talk with because he is truly a pioneer and a successful entrepreneur.

How can our readers follow you on social media?

Twitter: Mark Homza

Website: https://www.funday.agency/

Thank you so much for joining us. This was very inspirational.


Mark Homza Of Funday Agency On Five Things You Need To Build A Trusted And Beloved Brand was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

Meet The Disruptors: Jonathan Kite Of Rent Ready On The Five Things You Need To Shake Up Your…

Meet The Disruptors: Jonathan Kite Of Rent Ready On The Five Things You Need To Shake Up Your Industry

An Interview With Fotis Georgiadis

Never go it alone, always start a business with co-founders to share the emotional burden of what you are trying to accomplish. I have been incredibly fortunate to have started a business not only with one cofounder, but with two. Having someone to share the wins and celebrate with, but also to share the pains and difficult decisions with is paramount to your survival. Running a company is incredibly lonely — if you have the chance to share that with someone else, you would be foolish not to!

As a part of our series about business leaders who are shaking things up in their industry, I had the pleasure of interviewing Jonathan Kite, the CEO of Rent Ready.

Jonathan Kite is the CEO and Co-Founder of Rent Ready, a technology company that uses an integrated services portal to deliver an end-to-end make-ready service for apartment communities. Based in Charlotte, NC, the startup introduces a modern day solution to an age-old apartment industry problem with the first automated turn board in the marketplace, connecting community staff with service professionals to schedule work orders for all turn services including painting, cleaning, wall repairs, tub/counter resurfacing and more.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dig in, our readers would like to get to know you a bit more. Can you tell us a bit about your “backstory”? What led you to this particular career path?

I grew up in Charlotte, NC where Rent Ready is currently headquartered. Even as a child, I was enamored with the process of creating and I got into technology because I was obsessed with its use as a creative problem-solving tool. Immediately out of college, I started my career at Microsoft where I held different roles that allowed me to interact with hundreds of different companies, learning how they developed, supported, and evolved software to solve business problems. In my last role at Microsoft, I had an incredible opportunity to work on a team with advanced internal access to cloud technologies that would eventually become Microsoft Azure.

It was an experience that demonstrated first hand how quickly cloud first technologies could enable the transformation of a business idea to execution at a rate never seen before. So when approached by my two other co-founders with the idea of Rent Ready, I knew the time was right to leverage my experiences at Microsoft to help build a company. Ryan McMillan, my first co-founder, worked directly in the multifamily industry, observing and living the challenges of getting vacant units ready for new residents by working with fragmented labor sourced through local vendors without the aid of technology to facilitate the apartment turnover; a highly sequenced and timed multi-stage delivery that must be completed in order to move in new residents. Will, my second co-founder, came from a background in finance and private equity and quickly identified the enormity of market opportunity the turnover process represents in the multifamily industry.

Each of us came at solving this problem from unique backgrounds, a keen observation of the challenge facing the multi-family industry, the business background to identify a go to market plan, and the technology expertise to build and scale a national company.

Can you tell our readers what it is about the work you’re doing that’s disruptive?

The apartment industry prepares recently vacated units for new residents in an entirely manual or analog manner. Apartment managers find and source local vendor relationships across 4–5 different vendors who each provide a unique service that is required in the sequenced process for getting a unit ready for a new resident. They are responsible for coordinating the scheduling of services in that sequence using traditional communication methods. It’s not uncommon for an onsite apartment manager to call, text or email their orders across their 4–5 vendor relationships each time a resident moves out and a turnover is triggered — tracking availability, confirmation and service progress manually on a dry erase board or excel spreadsheet.

This is a time consuming process that eats up anywhere from 4–6 hours of a manager’s time on a weekly basis. Rent Ready is applying technology to help solve that problem by providing apartment managers access to web and mobile applications, connected to a network of skilled vendors also utilizing mobile technology to seamlessly connect the two together. With a few clicks, apartment managers can specify their desired service profile, sequence, and timing requirements, and Rent Ready will automate the rest of the process, suggesting service availability dates, timing, and automatically scheduling work against its network of service providers all with one click. Service providers receive real time notifications of work assignment, and interact with technology that allows managers to gain real-time insight into work progress and timing.

This is a radically different and simplified approach that uses mobile technology to help remove friction and improve the process for both apartments seeking work to be performed, and service professionals providing that work to apartments.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

Rent Ready is designed to help make the lives of onsite managers easier, and the technology that Rent Ready provides apartments helps connect them to a marketplace or network of service providers. Building out a network of service providers has been an iterative journey of discovery over the years and one full of lessons. Validating a prospective service providers skill set has always been difficult, and in the early years, it took us time to realize that almost everyone will tell you they have the ability to perform a skill set.

Painting is a great example where if you ask most people if they know how to paint, you will almost always emphatically be told “yes” only to have that individual show up to paint an apartment with a single paintbrush. Early on, that happened more times than I care to admit and was a great lesson in adopting the “trust but verify” mantra needed to build expertise in assessing skilled trades to service our clients.

We all need a little help along the journey. Who have been some of your mentors? Can you share a story about how they made an impact?

One of the most impactful mentors I ever had was actually my first out of college in my first role at Microsoft. Her name was Ellis, and she was a long-time veteran of Microsoft who had been there for over a decade and served in many roles on many teams. She was an inspiration in helping me to realize that there are things in life that are fundamentally more important than work, which is a lesson I hold true even to this day. She famously helped work for and supported several U.S. Military organizations on behalf of Microsoft and was always great at reminding me of the criticality of what I did on a daily basis.

When things were stressful for me or I felt like the world was falling down around me, she constantly reminded me that there are things in life that are truly critical — like ensuring that software systems are operating and functioning to help in aiding tasks like landing pilots on aircraft carriers, things that truly impact life and safety. Those reminders always helped me put things into context with the problems that I faced, and it’s a lesson I try to repeat to my teams on a constant basis whenever they are feeling stressed in the high paced environment of working for a startup. Yes, helping our customers get units turned is critical to our business and important, but we aren’t landing fighter jets on aircraft carriers and there are no lives at stake.

In today’s parlance, being disruptive is usually a positive adjective. But is disrupting always good? When do we say the converse, that a system or structure has ‘withstood the test of time’? Can you articulate to our readers when disrupting an industry is positive, and when disrupting an industry is ‘not so positive’? Can you share some examples of what you mean?

You often hear the term “10x” thrown around when thinking about what startups seek to achieve. They are seeking to disrupt an industry by solving a difficult problem by delivering a solution through either new technology or business process that is not just better, but truly 10x better than anything a competitor can offer. You see that every day as companies seek to reduce friction in an industry by providing 10x solutions that make the old way of doing something seem obsolete.

As obsessed with technology as I am, I have always been torn between the new and the old, still loving and preferring the preservation of old experiences that so many new companies have disrupted today. The convenience of streaming music is certainly an example of an experience that is 10x better than consuming music in analog with a CD or record, but as a music enthusiast I still prefer the process of seeking out and collecting music in analog, which is why I continue to collect and have amassed a huge collection of records. While I can’t deny that the experience of streaming music overall is a positive disruption for 90% of the addressable market, it has had a negative impact on the enthusiasm and culture of the remaining 10% of loyal fans who will always prefer the hobby of collection and music appreciation.

Sometimes disruption can be so focused on the tangible measures of an industry; cycle time, cost, convenience, etc that you lose sight of the intangibles of an industry that make it truly unique.

Can you share five of the best words of advice you’ve gotten along your journey? Please give a story or example for each.

1. Take care of the people, the products and the profits in that order — The culture that we built at Rent Ready has always been focused on creating an incredible work opportunity for our employees and putting them first. When the pandemic hit we were singularly focused not only on surviving but preserving as many jobs as possible, even if that meant that all of us had to make a sacrifice to do that — most companies did not make those types of decisions, instead laying off, focusing on profitability first. We took another path, and most of our team stuck with us not only through the toughest of times in the pandemic but all the way back to our eventual return to work.

2. The difference between success and failure is not a combination of brilliant strategic moves, or innovative ideas, it is the willingness to never quit and to continue to grind it out. I was once told that a C+ plan carried out with 100% commitment and execution is infinitely superior to an A+ plan carried out with 80% commitment. There are countless examples within our business of a truly “great idea” not panning out, which can often be a demotivator to those helping to build our business, but we consistently try those failing ideas again and again until they succeed.

3. You only experience 2 emotions running a startup: euphoria and terror. Nothing better highlights this lesson than the challenges of raising capital to continue to survive and grow your business. The agonizing lead up to closing a successful funding round to the sheer bliss of actually signing the documentation to close a round, immediately followed by the realization that you have zero time to celebrate because the expectation of your success has only raised exponentially only helps to highlight how true this statement is.

4. Never go it alone, always start a business with co-founders to share the emotional burden of what you are trying to accomplish. I have been incredibly fortunate to have started a business not only with one cofounder, but with two. Having someone to share the wins and celebrate with, but also to share the pains and difficult decisions with is paramount to your survival. Running a company is incredibly lonely — if you have the chance to share that with someone else, you would be foolish not to!

5. Always ask yourself, what am I not doing that I should be doing? It’s a question I try to ask in each 1:1 I have with employees, especially those I don’t directly manage. Some of our best ideas come from those who help support our customers in the day to day — and simply asking that question, what am I not doing, or what are we not doing that we should be doing almost always sheds light on a new process or business idea that can fundamentally change the business.

We are sure you aren’t done. How are you going to shake things up next?

Rent Ready continues to see the challenges of fragmentation in not only the labor that is provided into the multi-family turn process, but also the advanced acquisition of materials and other services. While we have been predominantly focused on normal turnover services such as painting, cleaning, and carpet cleaning; one missing component is our ability to help apartments facilitate more complex turns that require more in depth services like flooring replacement in a unit that is being made ready for a new resident.

This is a different product offering vs. what Rent Ready traditionally provides, and while apartments have access to much larger nationally relevant service providers offering this service, the same challenges of coordination and incorporation into the larger turn sequence still persist. Rent Ready can help improve that through our technology interface for customers, but can also help provide value to these service providers by building technology that can help these companies improve their business operations and customer interaction too.

Do you have a book, podcast, or talk that’s had a deep impact on your thinking? Can you share a story with us? Can you explain why it was so resonant with you?

The Hard Thing About Things by Ben Horowtiz is the absolute best book anyone starting a company should read. It’s full of not only inspiration and practical advice but also recognition of the journey you are on starting a company. It’s not a management book full of self-evident observations or recommendations of optimizing an already established or well performing business that completely miss the mark on how you handle the extreme highs and lows you will face. Instead, it highlights the harsh realities you implicitly feel but can’t articulate by pointing out truths like: your emotions are at odds with your logic, and things are hard because you are both doing things and making decisions about things that you have no experience with and there is a high likelihood that no one else does. This has been such an impactful book for me, because it operates more like a soul piercing therapy session than a management book, acknowledging that the way you feel is normal, the challenges you are facing while unique to you, are not unique to starting a business and that things will only continue to get hard, not easier — and if that’s not for you, then you shouldn’t be running a business.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

“You have to lie down to be a doormat” is a life lesson taught to me at an early age that has always resonated with me. For me, it is what has always sparked my relentlessness, which not only helped me in starting a business but to continue to build that business and overcome the many obstacles we have faced. Oftentimes people are too quick to accept the response of “no,” or resign themselves to accept defeat, be that through bad luck, bad negotiation or a lack of self confidence in pushing back. Advocate for yourself, don’t be shy to ask “why,” when even if you do hear “no” — you deserve to know why so you can constantly improve yourself and get to “yes” the next time you try it again!

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

I’ve always been obsessed with bicycles as a form of transportation, ever since I was a kid. When I lived in Seattle and worked at Microsoft, I never drove, I biked literally everywhere; to see friends, to grocery shop, or to get to work. Americans often feel like cars are a necessity, and in many cities that aren’t bike-able or don’t have great public transportation that may be true, but it doesn’t have to be. Making decisions about where we live and what we need in our lives are all related, and oftentimes most don’t see that by making trade-offs like not owning a car, many of us can afford to lead different lifestyles like living closer to work.

I wish I could find a way to help inspire and encourage others to adopt a car free lifestyle, to help change the way our cities in America are designed, flow and operate so others can find ways to adopt a more urban and dense way of living led by the bicycle!

How can our readers follow you online?

You can follow me on LinkedIn or the Rent Ready blog here.

This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for joining us!


Meet The Disruptors: Jonathan Kite Of Rent Ready On The Five Things You Need To Shake Up Your… was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

Minna Taylor Of Energize Your Voice On The 5 Things You Need To Be A Highly Effective Public…

Minna Taylor Of Energize Your Voice On The 5 Things You Need To Be A Highly Effective Public Speaker

An Interview With Fotis Georgiadis

Never seek perfection. Perfection does not exist in the realm of human behavior and frankly it’s boring to watch. People want to experience aliveness, immediacy, and witness humanity in action. The fun is in the flaw. Be prepared, be professional, but do not seek perfection.

At some point in our lives, many of us will have to give a talk to a large group of people. What does it take to be a highly effective public speaker? How can you improve your public speaking skills? How can you overcome a fear of speaking in public? What does it take to give a very interesting and engaging public talk? In this interview series called “5 Things You Need To Be A Highly Effective Public Speaker” we are talking to successful and effective public speakers to share insights and stories from their experience. As a part of this series, we had the pleasure of interviewing Minna Taylor.

Minna Taylor is the author of The Confident Body and the Founder of Energize Your Voice (WBE), a NYC based communication coaching and training firm. With an experiential approach, rooted in the principles of play and performance, she and her team support organizations, individuals, and entrepreneurs to explore their full potential in public speaking, storytelling, and leadership communication. Notable clients include UBER, Red Bull, Citi, and E&Y. Minna earned her BFA from NYU Tisch and went on to earn her MFA in Performance with a concentration in speech and vocal production. Beginning her career as an accent reduction specialist, Minna went on to transfer her theater training to developing an innovative approach for professional development.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Our readers would love to get to know you a bit better. Can you tell us the story of how you grew up?

My pleasure! Let’s refer to this as my origin story, the conditions under which I was formed. I grew up in Appalachia Virginia on a farm. This was pre-internet, so the fields, forests, and mountains were our entertainment. I have two sisters, one is an identical twin, and we would play make believe for hours in the pastures amidst the cows. Growing up in such a small town in the Blueridge Mountains, people relied on community and knowing your neighbors. I was exposed, at a very early age, to the power of personal story and the impact of sharing that story with others. That is how we learn, that is how we build relationships, that is how we survive. This wisdom took on a whole new meaning when I began studying acting at NYU. Storytelling became a physical activity and an expression of my deepest need. Through my theater training, I came deeply in touch with my purpose and my impact on others.

Can you share a story with us about what brought you to this specific career path?

At NYU I took speech and voice as part of my training. I really clicked with the process of phonetic construction. I would walk around the streets of Greenwich Village working out the precision of how to eliminate sibilance when creating an ‘s’ sound, the nuanced shift of the tongue when moving from an ‘ee’ sound to an ‘i as in will’ sound. It was like math for the mouth: 1+1=2. Place your tongue here, get this sound, etc.

As soon as I graduated, I became a TA for speech with the Atlantic Theater Acting School NYU track. I continued to coach speech after graduate school, where I studied the same phonetic principles. I started contracting with a company coaching accent reduction for corporate clients.

It was there that I first witnessed the pervasive habit of humans disconnecting from their need to speak. They weren’t breathing. Their voices were not free to create the sounds. Their bodies were tight and unexpressive. They were conducting themselves in accordance to what they thought they needed to be rather than allowing themselves to embrace fully who they were.

After three years of this exposure, my calling became clear. I had to transition out of acting and pursue confidence and authentic communication full time in order to transform the way people understand what is possible for the way they interact with their lives.

Can you tell us the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?

It’s the moment when I first discovered the power of play to impact human performance. I was asked by a friend of mine, who was working for a small advertising agency, if I would lead a workshop on presentation skills and public speaking. Now at this point in my work, I was really only doing accent reduction and a little presentation coaching when called for. I had not taught a group workshop before or even considered how the heck I would be able to pull it off, but I said yes first and figured it out later.

I came up with two guiding premises: I would treat this as a theater director to help the “actors” reach peak performance and I would impart public speaking skills such as confidence, vocal presence, and body language through the use of improv games. Well, the training was a huge success and served as the catalyst for the company I would one day build — Energize Your Voice where we playfully explore public speaking, storytelling, and authentic communication for leaders and teams.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

In retrospect it’s funny, but felt more consequential at the time. Such is the journey of many moments in life, I suppose. I agreed to do a presentation to a professional organization comprised exclusively of CEOs who had the requirement of grossing millions a year to qualify for membership. It was mostly older white men, no women present, except for me and the woman putting out refreshments. I was in my early 30s at the time. From the moment I started talking, I could tell they were not interested in taking this program seriously. The topic was how to create more empowered space for female leadership within their organizations. The funny mistake was in thinking that I could bring a topic for which I felt passionately, but was not an expert in at that time, to a group of men who were not willing to take me seriously, much less my idea for organizational change. The humor is in the hindsight. Ripe with social satire.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

It would be impossible for me to single out one individual. I am very deliberate about maintaining my community, both my close friendships and my family. They serve as confidants, champions, cheerleaders, raving fans, thought partners, disciplinarians, and safe spaces. I am a very autonomous person, but I have built a vibrant life through the support of my invaluable community of humans. They know who they are.

You have been blessed with great success in a career path that can be challenging and intimidating. Do you have any words of advice for others who may want to embark on this career path, but seem daunted by the prospect of failure?

Failure is the gift of new information.

Humans are inherently fallible.

Failure is inevitable. Do it anyway.

No one pays to see perfect.

What drives you to get up everyday and give your talks? What is the main empowering message that you aim to share with the world?

I see a world filled with humans who know there is more to the life they are living, but are uncertain how to uncover that illusive potential. The secret is simpler than we think — Play. Humans have an innate desire to play, but we resist this desire out of conditioned conformity, propriety, and fear. The world would be a better place if we allow ourselves to play fully and rediscover how to play well with others. I like to believe that the ability to look silly is a superpower

You have such impressive work. What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now? Where do you see yourself heading from here?

My work is three-fold: my thought leadership, my corporate work, and my private practice. They all have exciting moments ahead.

  • I am heading into a speaking tour for my book, The Confident Body, that is bringing me around the world.
  • We are activating very meaningful workshops for our corporate clients, which means we are able to donate more trainings to our nonprofit partners as part of our B1G1 Social Impact Program.
  • In my private practice I am working with innovators, visionaries, and change makers to help them bring their voices to a global stage.

I feel truly blessed and hold tremendous reverence for the position I have in this world. From here, I see a global vision for a movement toward play, kindness, creativity, and purpose.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

Invent nothing. Deny nothing.” — David Mamet

This was a principle under which I was trained as an actor, but translates so beautifully into life. Life is not happening to us, it is happening with us and before us. So many of us, myself included, get trapped in worry, anxious reflection or anticipation, and it is not serving our presence and wellbeing. There is tremendous freedom in seeing what is and honoring the truth, free from speculation, attachment, or creative interpretation. It is what it is and what it is is just as it should be.

Ok, thank you for all that. Here is the main question of our interview. What are your “5 Things You Need To Be A Highly Effective Public Speaker?” Please share a story or example for each.

  1. Public speaking is never about you. It is about your audience. Your primary job in public speaking is to demand the attention and energetic participation of your audience. Keep them engaged and hold them tight through your intention and desire to be heard. It does not matter if they like you, approve of you, or validate your worth. It is not you against them and some level of unspoken acceptance will make it all okay. Be there in service, not self-interest. It will transform your mindset and confidence when you step on stage.
  2. Never seek perfection. Perfection does not exist in the realm of human behavior and frankly it’s boring to watch. People want to experience aliveness, immediacy, and witness humanity in action. The fun is in the flaw. Be prepared, be professional, but do not seek perfection.
  3. Memorize the thoughts, not the words. Keep it consistent, but never scripted. We assume safety in having every word or moment planned out. But what happens is that if anything goes wrong — a word forgotten, an unexpected glitch in lighting, a tech mishap — we have undermined our ability to continue with purpose because we have not practiced with any space for the unplanned, surprising moments that delight both us and our audience. By memorizing the essential ideas or points rather than the exact words, one after another with no variation in their order, you leave yourself open to being intentional in your communication while remaining responsive to your audience and the moments as they unfold. It leads to a deeper level of freedom, even in the absence of perceived safety. Trust me on this one. It feels counter intuitive to not memorize every word, but I have seen it time and time again. People are so focused on each word, that they stay in their heads and disconnect from the heart, which is where all great speakers are connected to. Thoughts over words always.
  4. Practice playfully first. Polish last. The default mode of practice, and what has been promoted in traditional (and frankly antiquated) public speaking training, is to practice in front of a mirror like you were presenting in front of an audience. This should be the last stage of practice if at all! You must practice in playful ways, engaging the voice in dynamic expression and the body in large expansive gestures. Move around, sound ridiculous, go fast, go suuuuuuper slow, get big, or play a character. Lean into the silly. Then, move to a more polished practice. Why this is important is because when we meet the moment when called to rise to the occasion of public speaking, our adrenalin will kick in and our bodies will likely tense up. If we have practice only in polished form, we will shrink ourselves, get tight, and lose connection to our breath. If we practice playfully, in expansive and expressive ways, we build muscle memory around our content that lends itself to maintaining dynamic, authentic expression even in the face of fear.
  5. The moment before and the moment you begin are the most important moments in your talk. Breathe and land your focus outside of yourself. Do not rush to begin. You will run the risk of starting before you’re ready. This will lead you to spend the first few moments disconnected from your audience while you’re in your head trying to catch up to yourself. Giving yourself a moment to transition both your energy and the energy and attention of the audience into a space of readiness, will allow you to create a sense of relationship and allow for the energy to calibrate so everyone is focused and prepared to move forward with a shared intention.

As you know, many people are terrified of speaking in public. Can you give some of your advice about how to overcome this fear?

Breathe. Lower your expectations for how you think you should be and give yourself permission to show up as you are. People place tremendous energy in questions like, where should I look and what do I do with my hands? If you are unwilling to show me your humanity, I don’t care what you do with your hands. The audience desperately wants to see you, flaws and all. Give them that gift. No one is rooting for you to fail. You are all in it together.

You are a person of huge influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be?

Kindness as a global value.

Is there a person in the world whom you would love to have lunch with, and why? Maybe we can tag them and see what happens!

Krista Tippett, host of the On Being podcast. She has a remarkable capacity to engage in simple conversation over complex topics that inspire both curiosity and a sense of shared and intuitive wisdom.

Are you on social media? How can our readers follow you online?

Instagram is always a safe bet. @minnataylor_eyv

This was so informative, thank you so much! We wish you continued success!


Minna Taylor Of Energize Your Voice On The 5 Things You Need To Be A Highly Effective Public… was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

Meet The Disruptors: Chris Ritter Of C-90 On The Five Things You Need To Shake Up Your Industry

An Interview With Fotis Georgiadis

“You could never work here.”

I’ve heard this from dozens of places I’ve interviewed with or tried to work at. In hindsight, almost all of them probably wouldn’t have known what to do with me, anyway. I tell people all the time that I’m “unhireable.” That’s the real reason I’m an entrepreneur.

As a part of our series about business leaders who are shaking things up in their industry, I had the pleasure of interviewing Chris Ritter.

Chris Ritter is an award-winning designer, artist, and co-founder of C-90. Throughout his design career, he’s worked with notable brands such as adidas, GE, lululemon, and the New Orleans Pelicans. As an artist, he’s collaborated with and has had his work shown beside notable artists such as FAILE, The London Police, Ivan Crush, Vinz Feel Free, and Gene Spatz. He’s the Co-Founder and a Creative Director at C-90, a full-service creative agency and culture lab serving clients that need to be noticed, refuse the status quo, and need co-conspirators.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dig in, our readers would like to get to know you a bit more. Can you tell us a bit about your “backstory”? What led you to this particular career path?

Even at a young age, I’d always been aware of graphic design. In fact, I’m a rare second-generation graphic designer. My great-grandfather was a commercial artist in Cincinnati from the pre-war era until he retired in the 1980s. Most of his work I’ve seen was illustrative in nature. Personally, I went to college as a chemistry major with a dream to work in a medical lab. After two years, I was failing all my chemistry classes. I decided I needed to make a change, and a guidance counselor suggested I should try to take some design classes. I quickly fell in love with it and here I am today.

Can you tell our readers what it is about the work you’re doing that’s disruptive?

“Disruptive” is a word that’s thrown around so much these days, I feel like it’s lost much of its meaning. At C-90, we talk a lot about providing a distinctive point-of-view on problems. This allows us to focus our thinking and come up with creative ways to help our clients. I feel like this approach is increasingly rare in a world where everyone seems to be tactics-driven and chasing the latest trends.

What we do is work hard to define problems that we can solve through creativity and design. If our team comes up with a particular solution that requires our clients to do something outside the norm, we consider that a great thing because it sets our clients apart from their competition and allows us to explore truly new opportunities. For this reason, we work best with ambitious clients who are comfortable challenging the status quo.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

It wasn’t so funny at the time, but earlier in my career I was leading a fairly substantial design project for Mountain Hardwear. As I remember it, it was our first big meeting with the client and we were building a big presentation with lots of fun design ideas and some work that our team was really proud of. We got on the call with the client to present and after exchanging some pleasantries, the client abruptly stopped the meeting. He said, “Everyone does this, so you get a pass. Our name is ‘Mountain Hardwear.’ W-E-A-R. Not Mountain Hardware. The second time it happens, you’re fired.” We had misspelled the company name in huge, bold letters on the first slide. To add insult to injury, their name was also misspelled in the footer of every slide in the presentation.

I absolutely didn’t make that mistake twice. Luckily, the work was well received and we were able to recover from the rocky start.

We all need a little help along the journey. Who have been some of your mentors? Can you share a story about how they made an impact?

That statement is so true. I’ve had many great mentors throughout every stage of my career and I make a point to keep in contact with as many of them as I can. College professors, people I’ve had job interviews with, old co-workers, former bosses, ex-business partners, design school classmates, famous designers — these relationships have all helped me through some of my ups and downs. I even like to keep in contact with some of our direct competition to talk shop. That’s actually how my partner Emmit Jones and I got so close. We were owners of competing firms and I found myself in a complicated work situation. I reached out to him because I needed some good advice from someone who’d been in my situation before. Three years later, we co-founded C-90 together.

In today’s parlance, being disruptive is usually a positive adjective. But is disrupting always good? When do we say the converse, that a system or structure has ‘withstood the test of time’? Can you articulate to our readers when disrupting an industry is positive, and when disrupting an industry is ‘not so positive’? Can you share some examples of what you mean?

“Good design is long-lasting.” That’s a Dieter Rams quote, but it’s also something we say at C-90 frequently. Disruption and timelessness are not mutually exclusive. We build design systems on top of disruptive insights. Designing systems make the assets we create usable, memorable, and timeless. I think our recent work for NMUGS&R is a great example of this. It’s built on insight, looks radically different from other graduate schools, but is also systematic in its execution.

Misguided disruption is pointless. If you don’t have a problem to solve, there’s no reason to innovate. Any good designer will be diligent in identifying a specific problem to solve first. Once the problem is agreed upon, innovate away. Chances are, if you’re thorough in your work, solving one problem will uncover another problem to solve.

Can you share five of the best words of advice you’ve gotten along your journey? Please give a story or example for each.

“Pioneers take all the arrows.”

Words from my late business partner, Mike Amann. It was a casual comment he mumbled under his breath after a tough meeting. It’s a constant reminder for me that if you’re going to take the road less traveled–the disruptive route–there will be many more obstacles along the way.

“Son, you’re from Erlanger. You’d never survive in the country and you’d never survive in the city. But if you’re smart, you’ll be able to play the line in almost any situation.”

Growing up in a blue collar suburb in Northern Kentucky taught me much about being street smart and dealing with people. These were words my father said to me when I was about 8. I took it to mean that I had an opportunity to find common ground with almost anyone I meet.

“You’re fearless.”

This isn’t really advice, but more of an insightful comment. A fellow creative director told me this after we had finished a brainstorm for a big, well-known client. It was clearly said as a compliment. We were both really excited with the ideas we landed on. In that moment, I also realized that pushing towards new directions can legitimately be scary for some people.

“You can either be afraid to fail or be afraid to succeed.”

Fear is a part of life everyone deals with in the early days of running your own business. Fear gives you a choice. You can let your fear of failure build determination and drive you forward or let your fear of success (and the work that goes into it) keep you from reaching your potential. Pro tip: be afraid to fail.

“You could never work here.”

I’ve heard this from dozens of places I’ve interviewed with or tried to work at. In hindsight, almost all of them probably wouldn’t have known what to do with me, anyway. I tell people all the time that I’m “unhireable.” That’s the real reason I’m an entrepreneur.

We are sure you aren’t done. How are you going to shake things up next?

Currently, C-90 is focused on expanding to take on more national work. We’re always searching for ambitious clients that want to do some truly interesting work. Recently, we hired our first employee in New York City and are looking to expand our team there.

Do you have a book, podcast, or talk that’s had a deep impact on your thinking? Can you share a story with us? Can you explain why it was so resonant with you?

I mostly read books for self-improvement. Here are four that have shaped me as a designer.

Josef Müller-Brockmann, Grid Systems In Graphic Design

Massimo Vignelli, The Vignelli Canon

David Carson, The End of Print

Sefan Sagmeister, Things I have learned in my life so far

Two books from pioneering modernists and two books from avant garde designers. All four are classics that walk through design philosophies in meticulous detail. I’ve read all of them multiple times. When I’m creating, it’s rare that I don’t recall some detail from one of these books.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

This would have to be the same quote I shared before from my dad. What I didn’t mention before is that moments after saying that, he taught me how to box. Pretty soon, we were bobbing and weaving right in the middle of our kitchen. I think what he was trying to add to the conversation was that even if you do find common ground with others, you still need to balance it by being tough and being able to stick up for yourself.

I think I’ve always had that mentality in work and in life. It fuels my “fearlessness” while allowing me to connect with my clients.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

That’s an interesting question. I’ve never thought of myself as a “charismatic leader” per se, but more of a great “worker bee” type that inspires others by example. There are so many people and organizations doing great positive work for social causes, I’d likely team up with someone who’s got some positive momentum.

I’ve had a chance to work indirectly with Parley For The Oceans when I was doing a project with adidas. Parley’s mission inspired me to think differently about cleaning up the oceans and caring for the environment. Maybe I’d do some work with them. Climate change and the environment has to be the biggest global issue, right? The consequences are literally world-ending.

How can our readers follow you online?

You can learn some more about C-90 and see some of our work at c-90.com. We’re on Instagram at @c_90studio. Or you can always email the studio at play@c-90.com to say hello or start a conversation.

This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for joining us!

Thank you for having me!


Meet The Disruptors: Chris Ritter Of C-90 On The Five Things You Need To Shake Up Your Industry was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

Reducing Unprocessed Trauma: Rosanna RozyGlow Hanness’ Big Idea That Might Change The World

An Interview With Fotis Georgiadis

… Don’t do anything until you put your higher self, the ‘you’ that already has what you desire and the wisest aspect of your consciousness, in charge. This is the first step I teach in my coaching work. Otherwise, you are operating from your conditioning or ego programming, and this is not the elevated consciousness that will lead you from where you are to where you want to be.

As a part of my series about “Big Ideas That Might Change The World In The Next Few Years” I had the pleasure of interviewing Rosanna RozyGlow Hanness, the Maverick behind the StarPeace Movement, a MultiDimensional Success Coach, Galactic Healer, and CEO. Rosanna created the StarPeace Movement to shift a global fear, stress and struggle addiction to one of love and thriving, via the entertainment industry. With more than 22 years working in fertility, pregnancy, birth and conscious parenting and based on her extensive research into early influences, Rosanna’s pioneering approach addresses the roots, causes and symptoms of intergenerational trauma.

Rosanna has been featured in Forbes and was listed as one of the New York Weekly Times’ Most Inspirational Women of 2022.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dig in, our readers would like to get to know you a bit. Can you please tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?

My journey into recognising how our early influences shape us began when I was 14. I was depressed and felt like I didn’t belong on this earth, so had the first of several rebirthing sessions. Understanding how our birth experience dictates what we expect from life started me on a path I’ve been on ever since.

During this lifelong exploration of the connection between my human and soul self, I have trained extensively as a healer and yoga teacher, specializing in fertility, perinatal and early years. I am always amazed at how little is known in the mainstream about the research in pre- and perinatal psychology, epigenetics and quantum physics, which, if integrated, would be transformational for humanity.

The work of Dr Bruce Lipton underpins a lot of my studies, inspired me to retrain as an Emotional Mental Detox coach with Suzanna Kennedy. My coaching career took me deeply into the world of metaphysics, as I learned how to co-create my reality in alignment with my soul consciousness (higher self).

My physical and spiritual practices opened me up to be a channel of my higher self, which is expressed as the galactic consciousness, RozyGlow. I started to receive psychic downloads, including, on 31 October 2020, the Sovereignty Prayer, which activated my soul mission. I was given crystal clear guidance that ‘The Light has won, let humanity know that peace has been declared in our universe’. This was the birth of the StarPeace Movement.

Can you please share with us the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?

By far the most potent lesson I witness again and again is how our ancestral influences play out in our lives, and how our cellular memory will seek out opportunities to heal past trauma.

I am three-quarters Greek, born in Oxfordshire (middle England), and have lived in many countries, yet I was drawn to live and set up my yoga business in South Croydon, a town in south London, UK.

I subsequently discovered that my maternal grandfather, my only English grandparent, was actually born and raised in the same town. After being called to specialize in pregnancy and birth yoga, I ended up working with the maternity services at Croydon University Hospital. It was only then that I found out my grandmother had given birth to a stillborn boy, my mother’s older brother, at the very same hospital.

A UK National Birth and Motherhood Survey found that more than 80% of all women are frightened of giving birth (Mother & Baby Magazine, October 2002). It is a vicious circle — women become fearful after consuming negative information, and this stress makes birth more complicated. I became an advocate for pregnant and birthing women, supporting them to overcome their fears, and in the 10 years I worked with them, the maternity unit went from being one of the worst to one of the best in the country.

I ended up living in South Croydon for 12 years. I tried to move sooner, but until my work was done, my DNA wanted me to stay.

Which principles or philosophies have guided your life? Your career?

  • Change your view of the world and the world around you changes.
  • Nurture the mother and she will nurture the child.
  • Love always wins — its vibrational frequency is higher than fear.
  • Treat others as you would like to be treated.
  • There is no such thing as ‘I can’t’ — if you believe it, you can achieve it.
  • No guilt, no blame, no shame — these states indicate a misalignment with our soul consciousness.
  • Money is neither good nor bad — it is what you do with it that counts.
  • Scared is sacred scrambled — fear means GO not NO!

Ok thank you for that. Lets now move to the main focus of our interview. Can you tell us about your Big Idea That Might Change The World”?

I believe the entertainment and media industry can change the world for the better, because of how our collective consciousness responds to what we consume as entertainment.

There are two important areas to consider:

1) The content and depiction of what we consume via screen, books and audio.

2) The consciousness of those who create and perform this content.

We are heavily influenced by what we watch, read and listen to1. Pop culture is a form of art, and all art is informed by the artist’s life story. I believe that by working with the creators of entertainment and media to explore their early influences and process their unresolved pain, whether directly experienced or inherited, we can shift the collective consciousness, changing the trajectory of humanity for the better.

We have more than 60 years of pre- and neonatal research2 to prove that we are not born a blank slate. The development of a fetus is influenced by both unprocessed pain and stress from previous generations, and also by what the mother consumes through her senses.

Our DNA expression changes according to our environment3. Collective events such as wars, famines, genocides and plagues, leave their mark, as do any personal experiences felt as loss, shock or pain. If we are never given the time, space and support to recover from this trauma, the pain is stored in our cellular memory for the next generation to inherit. This helps explain why we keep recreating the same stories over and over again. We are literally programmed to expect it, and then we reinforce the same messages through what we consume as media and entertainment.

The most influential ‘philanthropists’ and political leaders are all post-war babies. Politics and media have always been strongly linked. We use television to Tell-A-Vision, but is that vision helpful for humanity?

What our mother watches, reads and listens to, while we are in the womb, influences our perception of ourselves and the world. Babies develop an expectation of stress and struggle, which they will continue to seek out later in life, even if uncomfortable, as it feels familiar. The brain is wired to survive or thrive according to maternal conditions. Minimizing the exposure to potentially damaging prenatal influences will help to lessen their impact and support a better start in life.

The vast majority of current media and entertainment stimulates adrenaline and induces stress. Consider all the bad news, horrors, thrillers, action movies, dramas, soap operas and violent computer games, as well as the unrealistic and unachievable perfection propagated by social media. The brain cannot tell the difference between real and imagined stress, so what we choose to consume in our leisure time is of paramount importance. All of the above have a negative impact on young, developing brains, stoking the stress addiction and affirming unhelpful narratives that keep us stuck in a cycle of fear.

We can break free from this cycle, by helping the creators of pop culture to evolve beyond their subconscious programming and pain story. This allows them to rewrite their personal narrative and create from their highest consciousness, paving the way for a tsunami of positive storytelling and characters who model the very best of human behavior, even during their most difficult challenges.

I have guided thousands of people through this journey, which changes their whole perception of life and what is possible, enabling them to co-create the reality they desire rather than fear. When soul consciousness guides our human mindset, the impossible becomes possible. Add to that the recent explosion in technology, and we are perfectly placed to amplify and feed these positive messages to a ravenously hungry audience.

How do you think this will change the world?

I believe that in just one generation we can significantly reduce the unprocessed trauma of previous and existing generations and reset our expectations of the future. Instead of being born into this world already addicted to adrenaline, stress and struggle, babies will grow in an environment that engenders an addiction to the love hormone, oxytocin. We will become hard-wired to thrive instead of merely survive.

Women will consistently see, hear and read how to sit, breathe and deal with challenging events while pregnant, and prepare for the best possible birth outcomes. We will see everywhere, role models of healthy relationships, communication styles and conflict resolution, and so evolve our expectations and habits.

The world is full of trauma experts, therapists and coaches who can raise awareness and facilitate a global ‘platform upgrade’ from fear to love. What if the norm was to be healthy instead of sick? Happy instead of stressed, anxious and depressed? Thriving instead of surviving? Wealthy instead of struggling financially?

The subconscious is 90% more powerful than our conscious mind, so we are subliminally programmed by what our senses consume. Consequently, entertainment and media coverage has the power to take us from where we are to where we want to be, through conscious, heart-centered storytelling.

Imagine a world where the very best of human behavior is modeled consistently on screen, in music, and on the pages of what we read. Humanity adjusts its expectations of what is ‘normal’ and how to show up in life. We change our view of the world, and as result, the world around us changes.

Keeping Black Mirror” and the Law of Unintended Consequences” in mind, can you see any potential drawbacks about this idea that people should think more deeply about?

There is potential for my big idea to be criticized for sugar-coating what is really going on, and for portraying a reality that is just too far removed from the current status quo to seem achievable.

We must meet people where they are, using storylines that accept and acknowledge the current collective mindset and present how they can evolve into a new consciousness. Only then will we empower the audience to cross the bridge from the old world of fear and struggle to a new world of love and thriving, exploring a reality beyond what we currently know is possible.

Black Mirror and many other TV series focus on negative storylines, exploring possible avenues for the future of humanity that are anything BUT about thriving, healing and living consciously. There is very little that invites us to imagine how things COULD be. For example, what would a planet that has evolved beyond war look like? What if all extraterrestrials were not the threat we imagine them to be? What if they were teachers from other dimensions coming to help us evolve beyond our struggles?

I don’t deny that there IS already a movement towards positive storytelling — in movies, TV series, social media, gaming, even news — but it makes up only a small part of the output. We need to flip this on its head and shine a light on what is already helping humanity to evolve in a positive direction.

My big idea has the potential to provoke anger, among the people who use the entertainment and media industry to spread propaganda, and among consumers, as they realize how they have been manipulated.

Anger is a normal part of the process of awakening. As we explore a relearning of history, if you like — we need to focus attention on how we can evolve into a thriving world. It is important to practice creative responsibility, using entertainment and media content to help people learn how to process emotions in a healthy way, and how to focus on solutions rather than the problem.

Was there a tipping point” that led you to this idea? Can you tell us that story?

The tipping point for me was realizing that the majority of what we consume as entertainment is detrimental to our wellbeing. I stopped watching mainstream TV and news years ago, when I realized that all it did was lead me into fear and struggle. But just turning it off is not enough.

What do we want instead? How can we use media and entertainment to enhance wellbeing, including our collective mental, emotional and physical health? Can we shift our subconscious programming from fear and struggle to trust and thriving, through what we watch, listen to and read?

Already, streaming services allow us to pick and choose what we give our attention to. Where attention goes, energy flows, so if we choose to focus on positive narrative, this is what we will experience. Through my research and experience in pre- and neonatal psychology, desensitization to violence, neuroscience, epigenetics and quantum physics, I believe that imagination is the key.

Pop culture has the power to open us to new ideas and elevate our consciousness, helping us to see things differently, and empowering us to make different choices. Creativity is fuelled by imagination. This is art. If life imitates art, let’s make that art exceptional and let’s make it work for all of us.

What do you need to lead this idea to widespread adoption?

We now have scientific research that highlights the impact of our everyday choices on our personal and collective consciousness. We also know how to shift the world from its current pattern of fear, conflict and struggle, by minimizing and preventing trauma from passing from one generation to the next. If we want things to change, we must make this information widely available, and apply it.

We need everyone — the creators, the influencers and the consumers — to play their part.

I need to work with the creators of entertainment and media at the highest level. As they heal their unprocessed trauma, they will elevate their own consciousness. This will allow them to ‘download’ their creative inspiration from their soul consciousness (higher self), rather than from their subconscious conditioning (ego programming), which will always seek to tell the story behind the trauma. Once they are creating from their higher self, they have the potential to raise the vibration of the human race.

We also need to work with those who consume entertainment and media. As consumers, WE have the buying power. We can swing the vote, simply by refusing to fund that which is detrimental. We need to raise awareness of what people are currently buying into, and the impact this has on their wellbeing, so they can make choices aligned with what they want to energize in their lives.

Social media plays a crucial role as it is a very powerful way of amplifying messages and reaching a vast audience. Once key influencers adopt an idea, it goes viral, and this has a deep and long-lasting effect on the collective consciousness. Why not make the algorithms work for us?

Everyone knows Star Wars, the seemingly endless battle between good and evil. Everyone needs to know about StarPeace, the potential reality beyond the battle. We need #StarPeace to go viral, as both a word and a concept, spreading imagery and messaging around living as a peace-loving, rather than fear-mongering, planet. Talking about #StarPeace in both original and shared content, shows a personal alignment with a solution-focused mindset. Using #StarPeace in social media posts, print, lyrics, conversation, storylines and fashion becomes a way of saying “I AM choosing to see the world through eyes of love, I AM choosing to shift the narrative in my own life, I AM powerful”.

Once the general public is in possession of this information, it has the potential to change the face of social media, advertising, program creation and, as a result, politics, healthcare and education. As this positive approach is widely adopted, the negative fear narrative will simply fizzle out.

Find out more about StarPeace and how to get involved at

www.rosannahanness.com/starpeace-consciousness

What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started to Pioneer a Movement” and why?

1. Put your soul in control and follow its instructions.

As pioneers and visionaries, we are multi-talented and have a myriad of ways we can express our gifts. What is optimal? Your soul already knows. What is the most graceful, easy and joyful way I can impact this world with my gifts? Ask and listen. Create space for the answer to come and have faith your question has been heard. This allows you to create from the highest inspiration.

The ego resists the soul so expect resistance! Keep tuning into what you most desire, and align these wishes with the Highest Good and the Win Win Win. This inspires the most auspicious mindset and links you to everyone that has a soul purpose connection to your divinely-inspired project.

2. Dream your biggest dream and get straight to it.

This is reverse engineering. How would it FEEL to have accomplished your biggest dream? Let this inspire your action. Ask yourself, ‘What is the next step I need to take to bring this vision closer to reality’? You are on a journey. You have aligned with what you desire to actualize, and you can now trust that everything you encounter along the way is part of the plan.

I had the download about shifting my attention to the entertainment industry nearly a year before I really started to listen. My subconscious conditioning (ego programming) argued with my soul consciousness (higher self) as my dream felt too big, so I spent six months and a lot of money procrastinating. Once you’ve had a memo from your higher self, align yourself fully with it and TAKE ACTION!

3. Dont try to figure it ALL out. Because you cant.

The next step will be revealed, one at a time. Map out what you do know and trust the gaps will be filled as you step forward. Take time to process each bit of information you receive, in dreams, meditation, or as a consciousness download. Write down your epiphanies and dialogue with the part of you that is planting these seeds in your consciousness. Notice what subconscious resistance, which is just your ego programming, comes up and work on clearing that first. This is a big part of the work that I do.

4. We cant build a new world from an old world program or way of being.

We are learning how to create with grace and ease, moving away from the old world theory that the only way to achieve is through over effort. If you approach your big vision expecting blood, sweat and tears, this is how it will be. You can’t force the process of creating from your higher self. Yes, there will be times when you have to push through, when you feel uncomfortable and want to give up. When you feel like giving up, know this precedes every big leap. This is part of the process of birthing a new level of yourself.

The good news is that in order to help things unfold more efficiently, the key is to take care of yourself! Make it a daily priority to fill up with what brings you joy. Listen to your body and what it needs. There is no point in pushing through when you require rest. When you find yourself hitting a wall, let go and lean back into everything you have achieved so far. Choose to align with divine right timing and many of the obstacles will be removed. All you need to do is enjoy the journey and watch the magic happen.

5. Give your body time to recalibrate each time you take a step towards your dream.

This will allow your nervous system to catch up with the changes happening to your body, mind and spirit. You are upgrading your circuitry. When I first had my big idea, I didn’t know this. I pushed through and ended up bed-bound for 10 days. My body needed time to rest and recalibrate, as my consciousness had been blasted to another level. Once you get clear on how to share what inspires and delights you with the most impact, you will need lots of rest and relaxation so you don’t burn out with all the energies you are hooking up to. You will also need to replenish yourself, by seeking out things that nourish and delight you (good food, meditation, yoga, dancing, making love, having fun) in order to keep your vibe high.

Can you share with our readers what you think are the most important success habits” or success mindsets”?

  1. Believe in yourself, and get whatever support you need to bolster this self belief.

If there isn’t an existing program in your subconscious to support what you want to experience, then pay to work with someone who already has what you want. This is how you ‘download’ it.

2. Surrender control to your soul.

Don’t do anything until you put your higher self, the ‘you’ that already has what you desire and the wisest aspect of your consciousness, in charge. This is the first step I teach in my coaching work. Otherwise, you are operating from your conditioning or ego programming, and this is not the elevated consciousness that will lead you from where you are to where you want to be.

3. Embrace any resistance that comes up as a sign that you are on the right path.

Learn how to spot the many clever ways your ego conditioning tries to limit you, and do not allow this to stop you. Resistance will show up as fear, procrastination, self-criticism and judgment, as the world around you reveals where you are not yet fully aligned with what you desire.

4. Scared is sacred scrambled.

Feeling scared is not a sign to give up. Lean into the uncomfortable, the unfamiliar, the doubt — there is treasure in there. Learn to challenge limiting beliefs and create new beliefs from them, ones that serve your vision and expand your energy.

5. Evolve beyond living in F.E.A.R. (False Evidence/Emotion/Expectation Appearing Real).

Learn to trust your inner authority, your intuition. Looking outside of yourself for validation when you are a pioneer does not work. Only seek advice from those who are already ahead of you on your chosen path. Expecting someone who does not aspire to your goals, or who is of a lower vibrational frequency than you, to bolster your confidence, will not work.

6. There is no need to force the river, it flows on its own.

Resist the urge to rush. When you feel inspired, act, and when you feel depleted, don’t. Let go of the need to overplan. Map out the steps that are clear to you, and you will find your way. Taking imperfect action as soon as you are ready allows you to build confidence and forge ahead on your path. Your personal inner work will create secure foundations for the structures you wish to build. Strengthen the banks of the river so it can truly flow.

Some very well known VCs read this column. If you had 60 seconds to make a pitch to a VC, what would you say? He or she might just see this if we tag them 🙂

@richardcurtis

Would you like to co-create StarPeace with me?

StarPeace is a huge blockbuster movie, a bestselling book, a triple platinum album, an award-winning soap opera, a world-changing documentary, a radio station and a media platform that has the potential to shift humanity’s consciousness from fear, stress and struggle, to love, thriving and peace.

We know that fear and sex sell, but nobody has fully explored just how lucrative LOVE can be. StarPeace is the evolution of StarWars. What exists BEYOND the battle between good and evil?

This is uncharted territory, with infinite potential for the exploration of positive narrative. Combining the extensive research we already have with creative storytelling, we can move from a global addiction to stress and adrenaline (the accumulation of intergenerational trauma), to a global addiction to love. By creating content that stimulates the love hormone, oxytocin, our bodies will shift from survival mode to thriving, rewiring our circuitry and enabling us to co-create a world beyond struggle and drama.

I am calling the most well-intentioned minds, hearts and souls, who desire to have the greatest impact in the shortest time, to step forward and use their status, power and influence for the Highest Good of ALL.

How can our readers follow you on social media?

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Rosanna.Hanness

Facebook StarPeace: https://www.facebook.com/groups/527683555268183

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/rozyglow/

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/rosannahanness/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/rozyglow

To find out more, and how you can get involved, check out

www.rosannahanness.com and www.iamstarpeaceconsciousness.com

References

  1. https://medium.com/illumination/its-not-just-a-movie-how-television-shapes-our-brains-25f00cb42205 and https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/10904203/
  2. https://birthpsychology.com/ and https://www.trvernymd.com/
  3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6127768/

https://www.semanticscholar.org/paper/Nature%2C-Nurture-and-the-Power-of-Love-Lipton/9638146b7f24cd3ef79b1f2ee2ac1ff78856354b

https://balancedbodiescst.com/2021/10/27/how-our-surround-affects-our-babies/

Thank you so much for joining us. This was very inspirational.


Reducing Unprocessed Trauma: Rosanna RozyGlow Hanness’ Big Idea That Might Change The World was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

Makers of The Metaverse: Lyron Bentovim of The Glimpse Group On The Future Of The VR, AR & Mixed…

Makers of The Metaverse: Lyron Bentovim of The Glimpse Group On The Future Of The VR, AR & Mixed Reality Industries

An Interview With Fotis Georgiadis

Being a part of the VR/AR industry also means being a part of the VR/AR community. People interested in a career need to integrate themselves into VR/AR communities, whether it’s local or online. It’s a great way to network, learn from others, and if you’re like me, eventually found your own company.

The Virtual Reality, Augmented Reality & Mixed Reality Industries are so exciting. What is coming around the corner? How will these improve our lives? What are the concerns we should keep an eye out for? Aside from entertainment, how can VR or AR help work or other parts of life? To address this, we had the pleasure of interviewing Lyron Bentovim.

Lyron Bentovim is the CEO and President of The Glimpse Group, a NASDAQ listed Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality company. Founded in 2016, Glimpse is made up of multiple subsidiary companies all developing enterprise VR/AR solutions for a variety of use cases. Lyron is a serial entrepreneur with over 25 years of leadership experience in technology and finance companies and holds an MBA from the Yale School of Management as well as a Law degree from Hebrew University.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dig in, our readers would like to get to know you a bit. Can you tell us a bit about your backstory and how you grew up?

I was born and raised in Israel, but from K-12, I went to nine separate schools in three different cities across two countries. So growing up I learned to adapt to new environments quickly and not be afraid of new challenges. I needed to orient myself in a new school, a new home, and a new city all the time growing up.

I have always been an entrepreneur. I started several businesses as early as middle school, the most successful of which was a computer configuration business. Basically, I’d take an average computer and personalize it for that particular customer. That was my first business in the tech industry and it showed me how important user experience was when it came to personal devices.

Eventually when I was 21, my friend and I saved up enough money to buy a local ice cream shop. At the time, it was a regular ice cream shop, but we quickly turned it into much more. We bought an espresso machine, began serving coffee, and eventually expanded to a whole menu offering breakfast foods. My parents loved coming into the shop so that I would cook them breakfast. That was fun for them.

Is there a particular book, film, or podcast that made a significant impact on you? Can you share a story or explain why it resonated with you so much?

I love Star Trek. I’ve seen all of Star Trek, and I don’t just mean the original series, but all of it. Every single episode of the original series, The Next Generation, Deep Space 9, Voyager, all of the movies, everything.

The reason I think VR is so powerful is definitely tied to Star Trek. Immersive technologies allow you to create your own reality, and I think that idea is present across all of the Star Trek series. I always wanted to recreate the technology you see in Star Trek and, in a way, VR is our version of the holodeck.

Is there a particular story that inspired you to pursue a career in the X Reality industry? We’d love to hear it.

I came into the world of VR and AR through a simple Google search…. In Early 2016 it dawned on me that we are in the very early days of a new tech cycle. Since I lived in the New York City area I wanted to better understand the local scene , and so I Googled the term “NY VR.”, little did I know that this simple search will lead to the founding of a NASDAQ listed company (this should be a movie or at least a google commercial) Coincidentally, DJ Smith — who is now my co-founder and Glimpse’s Chief Creative Officer — was hosting his “NYVR Meetup” that afternoon.

I connected with DJ and we went to lunch to talk about VR, AR, and the idea of starting a company in that new industry. It was an exciting time to join the VR industry: the Oculus Rift had just been released, and organizations like the NYVR Meetup were starting to form all around the world. I knew that VR technology was promising, but communities like NYVR showed that there was a real public interest in immersive technology.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began this fascinating career?

One of our earliest subsidiary companies was called Kabaq (since rebranded as QReal), during the early days they focused on creating life-like 3D models of restaurant dishes.

When we would meet with investors — and we had to pitch to a lot of investors in the early days — I used Kabaq’s 3D model of a cheeseburger as part of our early demos. People were always drawn to the burger model. Many nights after a demo (usually around dinnertime) I’d get a call or a message from the visitor saying, “Guess what I’m eating right now?” It’s funny, but I think it illustrates an important point. VR has this ability to replicate reality so convincingly that if you see a burger in VR, you suddenly want a burger in real life.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

Starting the company was a mistake — I’ve been stuck with it ever since!

Once DJ and I decided to found the company, we realized we were starting from a tough position. Most companies start with at least one of the parts you need to operate, whether it’s manufacturing capabilities, a prototype, money, things like that. We had a great idea and a unique company structure, but no ability to make anything and no money.

So at that stage, it was challenging to pitch to investors. When we reached out to investors with a demo — this was in 2016/2017 — we would use the Oculus Rift, which had just come out. Everyone was so impressed because they hadn’t seen VR before, but the question we’d always get was, “So is this your VR device?” When we said no, the next question was, “Well when is yours coming out?” Like I said, we had no money and no ability to make anything, so it was difficult convincing people to invest at that stage.

Convincing tech startups to join Glimpse was also tough in the beginning. Obviously, people are very attached to the business they founded, and everyone’s certain it will eventually be worth millions. Since we had no money, we were offering to buy out companies with shares in Glimpse which, again, was worth nothing at the time. Our company structure also means that Glimpse financially supports our subsidiary companies, which we couldn’t do either. It was a difficult problem to solve.

Eventually, we figured out that getting investors and subsidiary companies to join Glimpse was kind of like starting a party. When you invite someone to a party, the first question they ask is, “Who else is coming?” That’s when we’d reach out to a second investor, who was also potentially interested depending on who else joined. Eventually, we got enough maybes that we created a big presentation event and hosted a dinner for all of the potential investors. When they looked around the table and noticed how many other people were there, they noticed, “Oh, this is really something real now.” Joining Glimpse became much easier from there.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

I really never had the perfect mentor growing up. I’ve been searching for a mentor all my life, and I’m still searching. I’ve had lots of unintentional mentors because, more than anything, I’ve learned from other peoples’ mistakes. Observing other leaders in the tech industry, both today and in the previous tech cycle, was a big part of my learning process.

Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?

Our partnership with North-Star Care (NSC), a tele-health alcohol treatment program provider, comes to mind. Our subsidiary company Foretell Reality focuses on soft skill development and therapy, developing tools and environments for social connection in VR. Foretell is working closely with NSC to develop VR experiences for their remote treatment programs.

NSC’s goal is to reduce barriers to addiction treatment. They offer remote treatment programs for addiction, providing access to those who aren’t able to receive treatment in-person. This is a great example of how we can use VR for important social good, because VR is the perfect medium to enhance NSC’s remote treatment programs. Non-verbal communication (hand gestures, body movement) is only possible using avatars in a shared virtual space, and it allows users to connect more meaningfully with one another than over the phone or Zoom. Foretell’s VR environments also offer group activities and shared media, so treatment is a more communal process. The social potential for VR is quite powerful.

Ok super. Thank you for all that. Let’s now shift to the main focus of our interview. The VR, AR and MR industries seem so exciting right now. What are the 3 things in particular that most excite you about the industry? Can you explain or give an example?

Today, hardware is more affordable than ever. When we did demonstrations for investors in 2016, the Oculus Rift was the most affordable headset on the market at $600. The HTC Vive was even more expensive at $800 and for either you needed a “gamer” high gPU PC that would cost you an additional $2500, in addition you also had to lug around a whole setup of sensors and poles to make it work. Nowadays, we have the Oculus Quest 2 at $299, and it’s entirely self-contained, no PC or smartphone required. That’s a huge leap forward.

Haptic feedback is another exciting development in VR/AR hardware. Haptic feedback uses vibrations and motions to recreate the sensation of touch, which is great for VR because of the lack of traditional tactile devices like keyboards, controllers, or a mouse. Conveying the feeling of picking up a virtual object, rather than just visually picking it up, is a major advancement in how immersive VR feels and a sign of the future of immersive technology.

Meta’s upcoming AR glasses, codenamed “Project Nazare,” also represent an important upcoming development in the world of VR/AR. For a technology to reach mass adoption, not only does the hardware need to be affordable, but consumers need to want the technology in the first place. Devices that are not only priced for consumers but are clearly useful in their daily lives will massively accelerate mass adoption, and we’re finally starting to see signs that those kinds of devices are on the horizon.

What are the 3 things that concern you about the VR, AR and MR industries? Can you explain? What can be done to address those concerns?

The first thing is a lack of patience across the board. Few people understand how tech cycles work, they don’t understand the specifics of this particular tech cycle we’re now in. Tech cycles are 30–35 year cycles and development takes time, and we’re currently in year 7–8 of this cycle and we are right on schedule in line with previous cycles. But people are expecting a fully-formed metaverse by tomorrow, and that doesn’t happen overnight.

My second concern is about public excitement around emerging technologies. People are way too excited about the potential of new tech and they overestimate what it’s currently capable of. So when they realize it’s not as advanced as they think, the pendulum swings the other way, and they become very dismissive of the new tech. We will eventually get to a place where excitement around new tech is more consistent and in line with the actual development of the technology.

My last concern is on the hardware side. Despite what I just said about patience, I am surprised that nobody has really solved the field of view issue with AR yet. I knew that problem was going to take time to solve, but I was expecting more progress than where we’re currently at. That’s a major issue holding back mass adoption of AR, and once we get that solved, things will accelerate pretty quickly leading to mass adoption by consumers and businesses.

I think the entertainment aspects of VR, AR and MR are apparent. Can you share with our readers how these industries can help us at work?

VR/AR has a place in every industry, from healthcare to manufacturing to education. Let’s take the architecture, engineering, and construction (AEC) industry as an example. In AEC, architects have to model buildings either by hand or using 2D screens before construction can begin. Poor visualization is the leading cause of rework costs, which can eat up to 20% of the total project budget. By viewing building plans in VR, plans can be visualized in a 3D space that’s more intuitive for architects and more impressive to investors.

Corporate training is another great example. Studies show that conducting employee training in VR leads to more effective and efficient employees. Not only do employees come out better trained, but the training process itself takes significantly less time and less resources from the company generating better outcomes and a strong ROI. Bringing a new employee up to speed as fast as possible is a priority for any company, and VR training is the best way to do it.

Are there other ways that VR, AR and MR can improve our lives? Can you explain?

The digital technology cycle created for the first time a connected world. Thanks to technology we can now work together with colleagues around the world and have video calls with family members that live on the other side of the world. Immersive technologies will truly make earth a global village, the Metaverse will allow us to travel, work, shop and get entertained together in an immersive world regardless of where we live.

What are the “myths” that you would like to dispel about working in your industry? Can you explain what you mean?

This goes back to what I said about patience, the metaverse is not here today! Since Meta’s rebranding announcement last fall, people often think that the metaverse is already here, or that it’s entirely owned by Meta. Neither is true. The metaverse — once it’s fully realized — won’t be owned by any single corporation or person. All the time, I hear people saying, “I’m building my own metaverse!” What they really mean is, they’re building a 3D world. The metaverse will contain many 3D worlds, but that one 3D world is not the metaverse.

What are your “5 Things You Need To Create A Highly Successful Career In The VR, AR or MR Industries?”

  1. In order to work in the VR/AR industry, developers need to learn a programming language and become familiar with a platform. Each VR or AR device is built on a platform using a particular coding language, so developers first have to decide whether they want to focus on VR or AR. From there, you can decide what device you want to program for, whether it’s a VR headset like the Oculus Quest 2 or AR-powered iPhone apps. Once you’ve decided, you’ll know which programming language to learn and which platform to become familiar with. A VR experience on the Quest 2 might be built on Unity using the C# programming language, so you should learn how to program in C# for Unity. If you’re interested in developing AR apps for iPhones, you should learn Swift and download Xcode.
  2. Whether you want to do operations, programming, or graphical design, anyone in the VR/AR industry needs an education. That doesn’t mean you need a traditional college degree, but you have to pick up the skills needed for your job before you can get hired. Plenty of our developers at Glimpse arrived at that position in different ways: some have a computer science degree, some took a bootcamp course online like XR Terra, and some are self-taught. It doesn’t matter how you get there, but focusing on your education is key.
  3. Because the VR/AR industry is relatively new, employees in the industry need to be flexible and adaptable. VR/AR employees don’t benefit from the established industry standards which older industries have, but they’re not tied down by those standards either. Working in a new industry like ours requires creative thinking and responsiveness to new challenges, but that’s part of what makes VR/AR so exciting.
  4. As with any new industry, the world of VR/AR is constantly evolving. It’s important to stay informed on the latest industry news and upcoming developments, especially given how fast the technology is improving. Keeping your ear to the ground is key to succeed in the VR/AR industry.
  5. Being a part of the VR/AR industry also means being a part of the VR/AR community. People interested in a career need to integrate themselves into VR/AR communities, whether it’s local or online. It’s a great way to network, learn from others, and if you’re like me, eventually found your own company.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

Education. Education is so important, and one of the biggest mistakes we make as a society is not investing enough in education. When we focus on educating all kids, it creates so many more opportunities for those kids to succeed. And I’m not just talking about the K-12 level or the university level, but even before that, at the pre-K level. Most countries aren’t taking any responsibility for pre-K education, leaving it solely to the parents to figure out, and that’s a big mistake. Bringing high quality education to all kids everywhere is a major personal passion of mine, and I think VR and AR can play a huge role in achieving that.

We are very blessed that very prominent leaders read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would like to have a private breakfast or lunch, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them 🙂

A few major figures come to mind, but a relevant one for this interview would be Mark Zuckerberg. Although we differ greatly on how we run our businesses, we see the future from a very similar lens (both would be very interesting topics for discussion). I would focus our time together on understanding the true strategy behind the founding of Facebook. As someone that has taught Entrepreneurship I think Facebook is one of the companies that has solved the classic start-up “chicken and the egg” problem better than anyone. When Facebook was founded, it started with a very small user base, initially just Harvard sophomores. Creating enough value to engage them and then growing by expanding to all Harvard students and then to Ivy League schools, all colleges nationwide, then the entire US and then the entire world.

That step-by-step expansion was perfect for the service they offered. If Facebook started at the global level where anyone around the world could make an account, you could have 100,000 users, but none of them would know each other. Starting in small communities where people wanted to connect with others and building out from there, was a perfect example of how to grow a business’s user base organically and deliberately.

So if we got lunch together, I’d ask him whether he knew he wanted to take that approach from the start, or if it just happened naturally and he lucked into it.

Thank you so much for these excellent stories and insights. We wish you continued success on your great work!


Makers of The Metaverse: Lyron Bentovim of The Glimpse Group On The Future Of The VR, AR & Mixed… was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

Making Something From Nothing: Gus Drakapoulos Of Sin City and Show Palace On How To Go From Idea…

Making Something From Nothing: Gus Drakapoulos Of Sin City and Show Palace On How To Go From Idea To Launch

An Interview With Fotis Georgiadis

Compliment your staff. Say thank you, even for the smallest things. Make your staff feel appreciated and heard.

As a part of our series called “Making Something From Nothing”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Gus Drakopoulos.

After overcoming challenges with the past, Gus Drakopoulos (aka “The Boss Man”) was 19 years old when he got hired as a cold caller and became the embodiment of “The Wolf of Wall Street”. As a registered stockbroker, he then closed one of his first deals with a successful immigrant and night club owner, and knew he wanted in on the same fun, exciting life.

Fast forward to 2002, Gus opened his first night club, Sin City in The Bronx (the adult dance establishment a million blockbuster movies have been shot in — Hustler with Jennifer Lopez, Billions, The Sopranos and more- In 2011 he opened another adult nightlife venue called Show Palace in Queens and soon after, Sin City in Philadelphia.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dive in, our readers would love to learn a bit more about you. Can you tell us a bit about your “childhood backstory”?

I’m born and raised in Queens NY. Predominately a Greek/Italian neighborhood. Went to school in a Greek/American HS, and sheltered from other cultures until I graduated. Today I see all people, from all different ethnicities, races and cultures as the same. We all have the same values, and people are not as different as we are made to think they are. The neighborhood was tough and it created tough guys. We all had nick names and 30 years later, all the people we grew up with, we are still friends.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

If you can think it you can achieve it! It’s thoughts’ are things, your thoughts’ become your reality.

Is there a particular book, podcast, or film that made a significant impact on you? Can you share a story or explain why it resonated with you so much?

Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill. As I climbed up the ladder of success, pinching myself if this is reality, I often asked why is it not happening to others that came from where I came from. The book goes into why one has and other do not. The book is my bible, not only for business, but life in general.

Ok super. Let’s now shift to the main part of our discussion. There is no shortage of good ideas out there. Many people have good ideas all the time. But people seem to struggle in taking a good idea and translating it into an actual business. Can you share a few ideas from your experience about how to overcome this challenge? Why are people struggling to bring there ideas into reality?

Many reasons!, just like failure has many reasons, I don’t focus on why they can’t or why one fails, I focus on how one did and succeeds. Those traits are few, and all we have to do is follow suite. If I had to guess a few reasons, the one that probably is the top of the list, is passion. Without it, you lack drive, work ethic, and an unstoppable desire to achieve your goals. It borderline an obsessive disorder you have to create.

Often when people think of a new idea, they dismiss it saying someone else must have thought of it before. How would you recommend that someone go about researching whether or not their idea has already been created?

Depends on the idea, however if it’s that unique, even if it’s been created before, maybe yours will be better. Blockbuster rented videos, Netflix did the same with a different twist to how they did it in the 90’s.

For the benefit of our readers, can you outline the steps one has to go through, from when they think of the idea, until it finally lands in a customer’s hands?

In particular, we’d love to hear about how to file a patent, how to source a good manufacturer, and how to find a retailer to distribute it. A successful person over time sharpness his abilities. No one has all the answers how to do something, not even Elon Musk. However, from my personal experience, over the years, I sharpened my capabilities to navigate and find the right people to get me what I need. I was able to do that by constantly networking and meeting different people, and identifying what they can offer. So, If you need to patent something it’s about finding the right lawyer to do so. Thru your network you build over the years, you should be able to do that. If your network is not there yet cause of age, or what not, find a mentor who already has a network.

What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me When I First Started Leading My Company” and why?

Compliment your staff. Say thank you, even for the smallest things. Make your staff feel appreciated and heard.

Let’s imagine that a reader reading this interview has an idea for a product that they would like to invent. What are the first few steps that you would recommend that they take?

Research everything about the industry you are about to go into, identify the leaders in it, and find out who are the people behind those leading companies. Reach out to them to help you become a leader in that industry next.

There are many invention development consultants. Would you recommend that a person with a new idea hire such a consultant, or should they try to strike out on their own?

Hire a consultant! Henry Ford was once called an ignorant man by a newspaper. He took them to court for defamation, during the court proceedings the opposing council examined Mr. Ford on the stand and started asking him some ridiculous questions to prove to the court how ignorant he was. Mr. Ford replied and said, why should I fill my brain with such non useful knowledge? Let me remind you that on my desk I have a row of buttons and by pressing the right one it summons a professional on the topic of issues I need an answer too.

Ok. We are nearly done. Here are our final questions. How have you used your success to make the world a better place?

I try to give back with inspiration, helping others who can help at the moment themselves and my life’s journey and knowledge I’ve gathered to the ones who want to follow a similar path.

We are very blessed that some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US, with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them. YES!

Puff Daddy, aka Diddy! He has a passion and drive, create and win like no other! Or at least he is very vocal about it. He also, has a great family structure, and has had a great loss having him reflect on what important and what is not.

Thank you for these fantastic insights. We greatly appreciate the time you spent on this.


Making Something From Nothing: Gus Drakapoulos Of Sin City and Show Palace On How To Go From Idea… was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

Makers of The Metaverse: Anand Srivatsa Of Tobii On The Future Of The VR, AR & Mixed Reality…

Makers of The Metaverse: Anand Srivatsa Of Tobii On The Future Of The VR, AR & Mixed Reality Industries

An Interview With Fotis Georgiadis

Vision — Understanding the kind of company you want to be a part of and aligning with their vision is essential. Setting the vision or aligning your vision with what the company is trying to build is crucial because we are talking about creating technology for the future.

The Virtual Reality, Augmented Reality & Mixed Reality Industries are so exciting. What is coming around the corner? How will these improve our lives? What are the concerns we should keep an eye out for? Aside from entertainment, how can VR or AR help work or other parts of life? To address this, we had the pleasure of interviewing Anand Srivatsa, CEO of Tobii, the global leader in eye tracking and pioneer of attention computing.

Anand Srivatsa is the chief executive officer of Tobii AB. He first joined the company as division chief executive officer for Tobii’s previous business unit Tobii Tech in 2019, bringing two decades of high-tech industry experience. Previously, he was vice president of the Client Computing Group and general manager of Intel’s Desktop, Systems and Channel Groups. Anand holds a MSc in electrical engineering from Stanford University.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dig in, our readers would like to get to know you a bit. Can you tell us a bit about your backstory and how you grew up?

I grew up in different parts of the world and moved around a fair amount. I was born in India, in the city of Bangalore. But I grew up for most of my life in Mumbai, which is the financial and culture capital of India. I had the chance to go to boarding school relatively early in life. But in general, my experience was one of moving around in different cities, meeting new people, and making new friends. Then when I was 11 years old, my family moved to the United States, to New York City. That was a major opportunity for me to experience a new culture and new lifestyle. And I’ve been fortunate this has been a trend that has continued throughout most of my life.

Is there a particular book, film, or podcast that made a significant impact on you? Can you share a story or explain why it resonated with you so much?

My response here is not actually related to a book, film, or podcast. But I would say watching Michael Jordan play basketball had one of the biggest impacts on my life. In Michael Jordan, I saw somebody who was highly skilled. But at the same time recognized he needed to put a lot of work in to make himself successful. And that was something that I unconsciously internalized from a young age. So I understood that to be successful or make an impact, you need to have a combination of talent, discipline, and commitment. Otherwise, it will be very difficult to achieve what you want.

Is there a particular story that inspired you to pursue a career in the X Reality industry? We’d love to hear it.

Even though it is not specific to the virtual reality industry, the first story that stands out to me is the book Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card, which has some elements of science fiction and future fiction. Parts of the story show what the Internet could become in terms of driving a public opinion from concealed actors. I enjoyed the book very much from a pure science fiction perspective. However, over the last four or five years, I saw how science fiction could portray not just the technology we use but what kind of social outcomes are possible with it. In the book, we see how mass communication platforms can be used to shape public opinion in a way that is not transparent. And over the last few years, we’ve witnessed polarization in our society, in many cases being driven by people online, and it’s unclear who’s driving the agenda. So, understanding how some of these technologies, like the metaverse and virtual reality, will have a broader implication on society is one of the things that inspired me to work in the industry.

I’m also a big Star Trek fan, so I see the metaverse playing out like the hollow deck type of construct. This is a space where you can make whatever you need for that particular exercise, whether it is a simulation or training or enjoyment or entertainment. And in my view of the metaverse, we will be able to go and enjoy all kinds of different scenarios that are either dangerous or impossible to get to in our physical world. Through the metaverse, we would be able to transcend those limitations.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began this fascinating career?

One of the most significant risks I’ve taken was the decision to move from the United States to take a sales job in Taiwan. It was a professional risk because I was moving away from my comfort zone, moving into a new culture, and working with a team at Intel I did not know very well and in a different part of the business. On the personal side, my wife was pregnant with our first child, and we were going to move when the child was less than eight weeks old. When I got the opportunity, my wife was in the second trimester. But we discussed it and decided that despite all risks, there were a lot of exciting opportunities both personally and professionally. I got the job and what was left was to go and see Taiwan, which we had never been to before. We take the trip, and on the plane, my wife says, “Ok, I’m looking for a sign”. For me, that meant there was no way we were moving. Five days of the seven-day trip go by, and no sign apart from the fact that it was a nice place. That day, we took the subway during rush hour, and as we were standing on this crowded train, my wife felt this tug on her arm. A very kind older woman guided her to a seat reserved for pregnant women and the elderly. And my wife then said, “yes, that was the sign”. So that’s how we decided to move to Taiwan. And the rest of my career has been a consistent willingness and ability to take risks. I can tell you that if I had not taken the risk to move to Taiwan, my career would’ve been quite different.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

This is something that happened during the launch of one of Intel’s marquee gaming products. At the time, I was leading the desktop business, and we were always on the lookout for the next best gaming processor. And I had the opportunity to lead the product definition. This was a product that was going to set the bar for processors, and I planned a big launch event for it in New York City. We knew this was going to be the best technology out there at the time, so we made sure everything about the launch was perfect. After the event was over, I took my team out for pizza to celebrate. But all of sudden, the PR team on the west coast calls to say the press was writing that Intel was faking benchmarks. This is one of the few times we had worked with a third-party company to set the benchmarks rather than waiting for the press to create them after the launch. And it turned out that the benchmarks provided by the third-party company, and shared during the event, had a mistake in how they configured one of the competitors’ parts. The data was going to show that Intel was by far the best product, but the ones we provided showed us doing better than expected, which became the center of attention after all. This turned into two months of crisis communications. The lesson here is that you can never control everything, even when you think things are perfect.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

I give a lot of credit to my wife for helping to drive me to be the kind of person I am. Being Indian and growing up in a fairly conservative Indian family, there’s a bias towards being quite conservative in your choices and not taking too much risk to go outside your traditional norms. And as expected, I was an engineer, did a master’s degree in engineering, and got a job as an engineer. But as I started my career, I realized my interests were in many ways outside of this realm and in places like business or sales, which were quite different than what I studied. These would also put me outside of my comfort zone and the safe environment I had been preparing myself for. So the person who encouraged me to take these risks was my wife. I look back now, and most of the success I’ve had has been thanks to the ability to go and take risks, putting myself in new situations to demonstrate I can contribute. Without a doubt, the diversity of my experience has been a key asset in allowing me to grow, try new things, and be chosen for challenging tasks. If I had not been able to take risks with the encouragement of my wife and or the support of my family to move around the world, I certainly would not be where I am today.

Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?

The technologies we work on at Tobii have immense opportunities to make the world a better place. In fact, this is part of our mission statement to improve the world with technology that understands human attention and intent. The application of these technologies can drive some massive improvements across the globe. For example, there is a lot of potential for contribution in areas like education, where our technologies can be used to help more broadly assess how students are learning and help them learn in a way that is better for them. This can be a huge tool towards bridging the education divide we see between developing and developed nations and helping children everywhere achieve their potential.

We also see our technologies helping power new medical diagnostic devices, enabling more accurate brain health or eyesight-related diagnostic devices. We have tremendous opportunities in many fields, and I’m excited to see that future become a reality.

Ok super. Thank you for all that. Let’s now shift to the main focus of our interview. The VR, AR, and MR industries seem so exciting right now. What are the 3 things in particular that most excite you about the industry? Can you explain or give an example?

The most exciting part to me, both in VR and AR, is that these types of devices can give us experiences beyond our physical limitations. For example, it can enable us to simulate or train in environments that are not possible to replicate safely. Or we could all experience being in a different environment, like Mars or the Moon. Those kinds of things are super exciting in the VR and AR space. These can also help transcend our limitations, whether that is the ability to remember all the information we need, help improve our lives or make us more productive. Hopefully, these devices will also save us some time to help us get more free time to enjoy our lives.

What are the 3 things that concern you about the VR, AR and MR industries? Can you explain? What can be done to address those concerns?

  • First, we have a physical challenge. These devices will be on people’s heads, so they need to be comfortable and something they will want to wear for extended periods of time.
  • Second, there is a technology challenge. On the VR side, we need to deliver on the promise that users will be able to use these devices to mimic what would be an experience that they could not have in the physical world. We need a level of immersiveness that is not available today. This is something our technology at Tobii can help enable more quickly.
  • The third challenge is users are concerned about more of their data being tracked or stored by companies. We are now entering a new type of digital and physical experience, so the feeling is their data will be more exposed. Today we already have scenarios where we feel companies are tracking our data in ways that are not transparent to the user. To make these kinds of experiences successful and something users really want, the tech industry as a whole has to think about how we are going to put users in control of their data, so as they are experiencing these great new immersive environments, they aren’t worrying about what is being tracked. In fact, at Tobii, we have a Data Transparency Policy all clients using our technology must agree to.

I think the entertainment aspects of VR, AR, and MR are apparent. Can you share with our readers how these industries can help us at work?

Today, from a work perspective, we are looking to transcend our physical limitations more than ever before. We’ve seen this in the last couple of years when as we’ve dealt with the pandemic and needed to collaborate with our colleagues without meeting them face to face anymore. VR can potentially help make those collaboration experiences more immersive and efficient than just being on a video conference. So from that perspective, it will help bridge colleagues across the world. It will hopefully create an environment where people from all over the world can collaborate and be more productive.

With AR, there are also significant opportunities to improve and create new tools for frontline workers or people who need information at their fingertips while working. Today many frontline workers, like surgeons, are in scenarios where they are using their hands, so they cannot carry a tablet with them at all times. And if AR can enable them to get the information they need to be more productive, I think there’s a massive opportunity for commercial use cases around augmented reality as well.

Are there other ways that VR, AR, and MR can improve our lives? Can you explain?

VR, AR and MR can help create more online communities where people can meet others with similar interests and break down barriers. Typically, we’re only limited to interacting with people in our own community, city, or country. But the metaverse could help make the world seem like a smaller place and create more of a sense of community. That hopefully is something that will manifest itself when the metaverse becomes more real.

What are the “myths” that you would like to dispel about working in your industry? Can you explain what you mean?

There are a couple of different myths.

  • First, if we look at it from the context of high tech, there is a myth assuming almost everybody in the high-tech industry is an engineer or has studied engineering. But there is a tremendous opportunity when we look at the kind of products that we deliver for a range of backgrounds to create value to build the future these devices and our technologies will enable. And this ranges from sociologists to finance people, to technologists, and on and on. So, I think the myth that the industry is only populated with engineers is probably overstated.
  • The second myth is that companies aren’t thinking about the impact of technology. So maybe they don’t see both the positive and negative elements of the technology created. This is something that at Tobii, we debate a lot. How is our technology used, and what is the intention with the technologies we put out? I think that is quite a common scenario in most companies. People, in general, are not just building technology for the sake of it. But we’re really trying to develop products to make people’s lives better.

What are your “5 Things You Need To Create A Highly Successful Career In The VR, AR or MR Industries?”

  1. Vision — Understanding the kind of company you want to be a part of and aligning with their vision is essential. Setting the vision or aligning your vision with what the company is trying to build is crucial because we are talking about creating technology for the future.
  2. Persistence — This industry has been through a hype bubble where people have expected VR to already have become quite mainstream. And, of course, these technological changes take much longer than expected. Thus, sticking to your guns and being persistent about what you think will be the future and create value is necessary.
  3. Innovation — Technology challenges us to overcome difficulties to create solutions that delight users. So constant innovation is key.
  4. Creativity — Creativity is also very important and needs to be paired with innovation to go back in and think about how you can continue to deliver experiences even if the technology doesn’t currently meet everything you need.
  5. Setting the right expectations — There is no big explanation here, but setting expectations internally and externally is an integral part of a constantly-evolving industry.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

Justice in education would be my personal passion. Every child should be able to access education that can help them reach their potential. If all children had access to high-quality education, it would give people a similar kind of start. So I would love to be part of a movement that enables that and makes that real.

We are very blessed that very prominent leaders read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would like to have a private breakfast or lunch, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them 🙂

That person would be Barack Obama. He is a leader who has broken through numerous barriers. I would love to hear from him how he was able to persevere, despite the obvious challenges in getting to the positions that he’s gotten to.

Thank you so much for these excellent stories and insights. We wish you continued success on your great work!


Makers of The Metaverse: Anand Srivatsa Of Tobii On The Future Of The VR, AR & Mixed Reality… was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

Wisdom From The Women Leading The Blockchain Revolution With Arina Dudko Of CEX IO

An Interview With Fotis Georgiadis

Don’t be afraid to go public. Go out of your comfort zone. Stand in the spotlight. It’s the only way progress is made.

As a part of our series about Wisdom From The Women Leading The Blockchain Revolution, had the pleasure of interviewing Arina Dudko.

With 15+ years of experience in banking, payments, client relations and crypto exchanges, Arina Dudko previously held leadership roles at Swedbank, IBC Company Formations and Industra Bank. Now Head of Corporate Payment Solutions at CEX.IO, she can address a range of topics including Banking & Payments, Corporate Finance, Business Strategy, Investments and Financial Analysis.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you share with us the story of how you decided to pursue this career path? What lessons can others learn from your story?

Growing up, I had a passion for finance. At 19, I decided the banking industry was the place to channel it. It offered stability to a young woman living in an unstable, post-Soviet Union member country.

My first employer was Swedbank. I enjoyed quick success in a sales/client service role and was designated “Best Client Customer Manager”. This designation led to additional training opportunities and progression to a leadership position.

After taking time off for the birth of my children, I held a succession of roles in corporate finance and business strategy. I became a private banker with a portfolio of complicated institutional clients in the IT/Fintech space. Among these was my current employer, CEX.IO. The company’s CEO asked me to join his team.

Can you tell me about the most interesting projects you are working on now?

We just finalized the addition of PayPal as a platform funding method on CEX.IO, as well as within the CEX.IO Wallet product. PayPal integrates seamlessly into the CEX.IO ecosystem, and adds an additional secure and simple payment method for web and mobile transactions that creates added peace of mind for our customers.

We continue to source new payment and funding options, with the goal of opening up the crypto ecosystem up to as many market participants as want to enter the space. A newcomers’ crypto buying experience should be as easy as purchasing a cup of coffee.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

It may sound strange, but the most important mentor in my career was simple want. I was raised in an uncertain socioeconomic climate and understood very early that I’d have to make my own way. I was literally hungry.

Today I enjoy mentoring and giving back to the industry. For example, my former assistant is now a successful financial industry professional in his own right.

What are the 3 things that most excite you about blockchain and crypto? Why?

1) The “New Age” economy is evolving and happening right now. The last time the world saw such a notable, rapid economic shift was during the Industrial Revolution.

2) The extraordinary speed of mass adoption. The Web 3.0 user base is growing at rates faster than any mass technology we have seen before. Yet even so, we’re still at the early stage of understanding and taking collective advantage of all the possibilities. It is so exciting.

3) The boundaries of how far a person can travel in the crypto space are only located in imagination and drive. We are reinventing the world as it turns. The sky’s the limit!

What are the 3 things that worry you about blockchain and crypto? Why?

1) The extreme volatility of assets at this stage/phase of crypto industry development is something to pay attention to.

2) Potential overregulation in the space, countered by an equal concern that the lack of a common approach is just as dysfunctional. Self-regulation, freedom of experimentation and above all, cooperation, is what makes the industry blossom.

Some clear and common rules of the game are clearly needed, but if crypto is perceived as a danger to current government economic models, overreaction is possible.

3) Bad actors. Unfortunately, the rate of scam activity is still very high, and creates obstacles for good actors. For 99% of the brilliant crypto minds who want to make the world a better place, there’s the 1% who will always try to misuse it.

How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world? Can you share a story?

Sharing is caring, right? I believe in giving generously of my time and experience, helping younger generations find their way with perhaps more clarity than I first had when I began my career. I will answer almost any question I am asked.

As you know there are not that many women in your industry. Can you share 5 things that you would advise to other women in the blockchain space to thrive?

1) Just start doing and don’t be afraid to experiment. It might look scary from the outside, but once you enter, you will see that the crypto community is quite open, friendly and helpful.

2) Forget about the Imposter Syndrome. The industry is so new, and women have never been afraid to pioneer.

3) Share your viewpoint — openly and without fear. The current male dominance of the blockchain industry comes at a significant product cost — offerings built for and by men. True mass crypto adoption is impossible without everyday use by women. We are 51% of the global consumer population.

4) Don’t be afraid to go public. Go out of your comfort zone. Stand in the spotlight. It’s the only way progress is made.

5) Read a lot and monitor industry trends. The speed of development is breathtaking. We all need to stay on top of it.

Can you advise what is needed to engage more women into the blockchain industry?

In order to engage more women, we need more public attention on the gender imbalance and how it ultimately holds the industry back. Many different skills and professional backgrounds are needed for success. Women must see that they are welcomed and necessary in this industry, as well as any other.

What is your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share a story of how that had relevance to your own life?

I can’t hold myself accountable with a quote, however I can and do standby a word — “resilience”.

Resilience is found in all aspects of my life: work, family and, my country. The environment and conditions in the game called life are forever changing. You need to align yourself with what is happening. Focus on the result with positive thinking and pivot as needed to achieve those results.

You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

This is championed by me and my close circle of women friends: financial independence — be the owner of your life.

In post-Soviet Union countries (such as Latvia, where I’m from) there are still far too many women dependent on men. Especially financial dependence, which worsens when it comes to child bearing. Family stability is a wonderful thing, but you never know what will happen. From my perspective, a modern woman must always rely on herself in terms of her financial stability, security and confidence.

I hope that my lived example of how a woman can be a player in a male-dominated field like finance and crypto, alongside being a mother (which I’ve not sacrificed for my career) can serve as another model for successfully combining the best aspects of life.

How can our readers further follow your work online?

Connect with me on LinkedIn.

This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for joining us!


Wisdom From The Women Leading The Blockchain Revolution With Arina Dudko Of CEX IO was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

The Future Is Now: Isaac Brodsky Of Foursquare On How Their Technological Innovation Will Shake Up…

The Future Is Now: Isaac Brodsky Of Foursquare On How Their Technological Innovation Will Shake Up The Tech Scene

An Interview With Fotis Georgiadis

Be aware of cultural differences that impact how you design systems. Differences in names, dates, addresses and more are everyday occurrences. For instance, different countries might write the parts of a street address in different orders, or they may have entirely different parts to their addresses — only the US calls postal codes ZIP codes after all. It requires research, thoughtfulness, and attention to detail.

As a part of our series about cutting edge technological breakthroughs, I had the pleasure of interviewing Isaac Brodsky.

Isaac Brodsky is a principal engineer at Foursquare. He co-founded and was COO of Unfolded, which was acquired by Foursquare in 2021. Prior to that he worked at Uber on marketplace data systems. He is an active contributor and leader of the H3 open source project. He lives in Burlingame, CA.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?

My journey started in college at Webster University where I majored in computer science. After college I ended up at Uber working with geospatial data on the engineering team. My team was working on marketplace systems which was my first true introduction to big data and geospatial data. I got hooked on this type of work quickly. Uber divided the world into hexagons with the H3 system, and I found the work both technically challenging and rewarding. I wanted more of it.

After I left Uber, I co-founded Unfolded in late 2019 with my colleagues Sina Kashuk, Ib Green, and Shan He. Unfolded is a geospatial analytics platform for data unification, enrichment, and visualization. My work with Unfolded presents never ending opportunities to continue to work on cutting edge open source geospatial software.

Unfolded was acquired by Foursquare in mid 2021, in fact, we just passed the first anniversary of the acquisition. I’m excited about what Unfolded can do and be within the Foursquare ecosystem, and we’ve made some great advancements since coming here. And there are more coming down the pike. I’m grateful to be part of this team.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?

Without a doubt the most interesting part of my career has been starting a company. Coming from the tech side of things, there is a lot that goes into the day-to-day operations of building a business from the ground up that I had not previously considered. Everything from hiring to making sure employees have health insurance to accounting for and filing taxes is something that requires skill and attention. While working on the technology remains my favorite part of the job, it was a valuable experience and I learned a lot. It gave me a new respect for business owners, and for the people who handle all of those tasks so people like me can focus on what we do best.

Can you tell us about the cutting edge technological breakthroughs that you are working on? How do you think that will help people?

I spend most of my time on Foursquare’s Unfolded platform, which includes technologies like Hex Tiles. Unfolded and Hex Tiles help people work with large geospatial data sets. A lot of technologies that help people work with this data are open source. However, the knowledge needed to effectively use these data sets and tools is quite niche. This means that a lot of companies are sitting on incredible geospatial data that they do not know how to use.

In particular, Hex Tiles is a huge technological breakthrough. It is a new next gen tiling system for working with large, hexagon-gridded datasets. Before we launched Hex Tiles, the tools needed to work with these datasets were very burdensome and complicated for the user to set up. In addition to that, it was difficult to visualize the data. Hex Tiles brings accessibility into this process, making a method that used to take days be shortened into mere hours, saving data scientists time, energy, and company’s resources.

How do you think this might change the world?

I think this technology could help save lives. Take Foursquare’s partnership with Kontur, a geospatial analysis firm, where we use data visualization and mapping to help humanitarian organizations manage the worst impacts of the climate crisis. The analyses we produce with Kontur helps humanitarian organizations pre-position aid and work with local authorities to set up cooling stations and hospital space in the areas most likely to be hit by wildfires, extreme heat, or other deadly natural events.

There was a time not long ago when visualizing this data would have been impossible. Creating clear, detailed maps, after all, relied upon 20 years’ worth of data on temperatures, wildfire paths, and a host of other inputs. Displaying the full, living map online, with updates in real time, requires tremendously efficient data processing, and Hex Tiles is the first program to enable it at this scale.

Companies can use large geospatial datasets and data visualizations to make better decisions, too, of course. They do, and that improves their bottom line. They can do some truly world-changing work. It is the example with Kontur, though, where we can see most directly how technology like Hex Tiles can literally save lives.

Keeping “Black Mirror” in mind, can you see any potential drawbacks about this technology that people should think more deeply about?

At its heart, Black Mirror is about morality, with a backdrop of amazing technology. That’s not an argument to stop making technological advancements; it’s an argument to consider the moral implications of technologies that people create and use.

One of the reasons I’m happy at Foursquare is that the company does a great job instituting and living by a moral code. We are committed to the principle that data is a privilege. We have strict rules in place to protect individual consumers. In order to ensure that all consumers are protected from harmful practices, we filter out visits to sensitive locations such as religious centers, women’s shelters, military locations, and LGBTQ centers, among others. Further, we do not provide audience segments for locations where children under the age of 18 may frequent.

Was there a “tipping point” that led you to this breakthrough? Can you tell us that story?

One difficulty when working with geospatial data is working with large hexagon-indexed datasets. I remember discussing this problem with my Unfolded co-founder Sina Kashuk. It was a problem he encountered on a regular basis.

This conversation, one that at the time felt like normal work chatter, ended up being the impetus to think about different ways of storing and computing hexagon-indexed data. This eventually became Hex Tiles, which Foursquare launched a few months ago. Hex Tiles gives data scientists like my co-founder Sina the ability to easily unify diverse spatial datasets, conduct on-the-fly analytics, and quickly visualize and explore big data on a planetary scale.

Moral of the story, there are oftentimes solutions for the problems that seem unsolvable and a normal part of our work routine. Don’t take those seemingly routine conversations with co-workers for granted, they could be a source of inspiration for your next big idea!

What do you need to lead this technology to widespread adoption?

While tools like Hex Tiles are only used by a select group of people who work directly with geospatial data, the impacts of this technology are far reaching and cast a much wider net than only those involved in the day to day.

At Foursquare, we believe in the power of location. All of our products are created with the purpose of helping our customers understand that where people go, and how they spend their time in the physical world is a reflection of their values and what they care about. Geospatial data in particular is a powerful way to visualize this, especially at enterprise scale.

What have you been doing to publicize this idea? Have you been using any innovative marketing strategies?

To publicize our innovative technology we’ve been making a number of datasets available to the public for free as part of the Unfolded Studio data catalog. It has been exciting seeing that people are able to get their hands on this great data.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

A few people come to mind for this question. First, one of my college professors who opened the doors of computer science and programming to me. When I began at Webster, I was not a computer science major. But I enjoyed this professor’s classes and she showed me a path through school that I enjoyed much more, which greatly impacted my career trajectory. I would not be where I am without her.

Next a few of my former colleagues from Uber come to mind. I had the pleasure of working with a few senior engineers who embodied the characteristics that I want to develop myself. They had great empathy combined with technical expertise and dedication. They were curious and always on the journey of learning more. I remain grateful for the time I spent working with them.

How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?

In my personal time, I volunteer with the Spinal CSF Leak Foundation, an organization that plays an important role in my life. In my role on the Patient Advisory Panel for Research, I am able to utilize my working knowledge of data and statistics by helping the Foundation look at data heavy research proposals and discussing with academics and researchers since I work with both of those groups on a regular basis in my professional life. It is nice to know that my skills as an engineer can be translated into things that I know are making a difference in the lives of so many people and would encourage others to do the same.

What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started” and why.

Before I started working in the technology industry as a whole and particularly with geospatial data, there are a few things I wish I would have known or kept in mind.

  1. You must be able to communicate the unique value proposition of your technology in a way that translates through the industry. It’s important to explain the value of the product you’re working on while also explaining what is different about it to more technical audiences. Other engineers and scientists want to quickly learn how your product builds on knowledge and skills they already have.
  2. Something else I wish I would have had a stronger grasp of when working with geospatial data is to let go of our attachment to the exact coordinates and think of the data we are working with as a grid system. In real life, that looks like calling an Uber. The GPS might not know what side of the street you are standing on. While that is an important detail, it is not always the one the system needs to be designed for. And while systems like GPS are considered the true standard, there is always some error involved because the signals GPS works with are complicated and noisy.
  3. If you see something strange in the data you are working with, ask why. Speaking from personal experience, you may be tempted to come up with a conclusion about why the data looks the way it does, or why it seems harder to work with, and move on to the next thing. However, I would encourage those working with data to dig into it — you may be surprised by what you learn. Sometimes people can be intimidated by asking the tough questions without a clear idea of where the answers will take them, but in the long run it is worth it.
  4. I have a saying I frequently use, and that is “time is relative, clocks are hard.” This translates to the fact that working with temporal (time) data is difficult and requires its own way of thinking. For example, even basic concepts like what day the week starts on are not settled concepts — some would say Monday, while others would say Sunday. This comes up practically when analyzing data over a week-long period. Clocks are complex things, and two people chatting on an app might have phones that show different times!
  5. Be aware of cultural differences that impact how you design systems. Differences in names, dates, addresses and more are everyday occurrences. For instance, different countries might write the parts of a street address in different orders, or they may have entirely different parts to their addresses — only the US calls postal codes ZIP codes after all. It requires research, thoughtfulness, and attention to detail.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

If possible, I would love to inspire a movement that combines the missions of public libraries and book fairs. There are many foundations that put this concept into action. Many cities have a non-profit foundation supporting their public libraries. Getting involved with these foundations is a wonderful way to support free and low-cost educational resources in your area, and to connect with new books, movies and music.

Oftentimes, library foundations and nonprofits will host book sales to sell off library books that are out of circulation or donated. I have wonderful memories of the book fairs where I grew up in St. Louis. These systems, both public libraries as well as fairs where books are sold at a steep discount, help young people invest in their interests, particularly if those interests go beyond what they are being taught in the public school system. For instance, if you learned about the basics of physics in your science class and wanted to do a deep dive, you can head to the library. It is applicable to any topic. Reading opens doors to knowledge and learning and should be widely accessible.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

“You never know until you try.” This saying resonates with me both in my personal life and as a technologist. Personally, I find meaning in this quote in “breaking out of one’s comfort zone” and being open to new ideas, people, and activities. As an engineer, I find meaning in this in prototyping and demonstrating new systems, as well as maintaining a healthy skepticism of claims until proven.

Some very well known VCs read this column. If you had 60 seconds to make a pitch to a VC, what would you say? He or she might just see this if we tag them 🙂

The COVID-19 pandemic has drastically changed the way that people live and move in the physical world. On top of that change, we are seeing an ever increasing use of data driven decision making, including artificial intelligence. Foursquare sits at the intersection of those changes and as the industry leader in location technology, we are at the forefront of this revolution. Thanks to our location data, organizations’ investments in location intelligence are driving positive business outcomes.

Technology can change the way people interact with their surroundings forever. With the digital transformation in full effect, it is necessary for businesses to make greater investments in technology solutions in order to stay ahead, especially with consumer demand and behaviors more varied than ever before.

How can our readers follow you on social media?

You can follow me on Twitter at and keep up with all the work I am doing with Foursquare and Unfolded.

Thank you so much for joining us. This was very inspirational.


The Future Is Now: Isaac Brodsky Of Foursquare On How Their Technological Innovation Will Shake Up… was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

Making Something From Nothing: Anurag Gupta Of Shoreline io On How To Go From Idea To Launch

An Interview With Fotis Georgiadis

Different is better than better. If you’re trying to disrupt an existing space, being 10% better or even 100% better, doesn’t matter. Your competitors are also talented, have a head start, and are lower risk. Ideally, you can be at least 10x better on two separate axes that your customers care about. When I launched Amazon Redshift, AWS’s cloud-native data warehouse, we led with a tagline of being “10x faster, 10x cheaper.” In that market segment, it was transformative and led to what, for a time, was AWS’s fastest growing service. We couldn’t have done so without building and selling differently from market segment incumbents.

As a part of our series called “Making Something From Nothing”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Anurag Gupta, founder and CEO of Shoreline.io.

Anurag is the founder of Shoreline.io, a DevOps company focused on incident automation — making it easy to automate away commonly occurring incidents and possible to quickly and safely debug and repair new incidents. Before Shoreline, Anurag was a VP at AWS, where he was responsible for transactional database and analytic services, growing this business a thousand-fold over his time there. He has also been an early member of three startups, with one IPO and two acquisitions.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dive in, our readers would love to learn a bit more about you. Can you tell us a bit about your “childhood backstory”?

I grew up in New York City. My parents moved to the US from India when I was 4. It was hard for them, but it gave me access to world-class libraries, museums, music, magnet schools, etc. We’re all shaped by our childhood experiences — I’m probably more direct, more passionate, and have more varied interests because I grew up as a New Yorker than if I grew up somewhere else.

After college, I came out to the Bay Area, working at Oracle. While Oracle was already a billion-dollar company, database development was just 20 people. I learned a lot there — most importantly, that you can do large impactful work with a small team. I then did 3 startups and eventually landed at AWS, which was just getting going at that time. It was a great place to build, innovate, and grow services that mattered to customers. After that, I started Shoreline, which is the next chapter in my life.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

Since we’re talking about making something from nothing, let me give you a quote from an email I wrote to one of my teams when we were about to release our first version.This quote is about the principle of reflexivity.

“As you shape your work, your work shapes you. If you work on things that are easy, you become indolent. If you work on things that are dull, you become dull. If you work on things that are commonplace, you become commonplace. Conversely, if you work on things that are hard, you hone your ability. If you work on things that may fail, you gain courage. And, if you work through times of ambiguity, you become a leader.

That’s why it is worthwhile working on these difficult, ambiguous projects that aren’t all that likely. You come out the other side a better person than you came in. And, at the end of the day, that’s pretty much all you carry from project to project, team to team, company to company. Yourself.”

Is there a particular book, podcast, or film that made a significant impact on you? Can you share a story or explain why it resonated with you so much?

There are so many! One I’ll pick is “Material World: A Global Family Portrait” by Peter Menzel. In this book, 16 of the world’s foremost photographers traveled to 30 nations to live for a week with a statistically average family. At the end of the visit, they took a portrait of the family outside their home, surrounded by all their possessions and holding the one they found most precious. There’s also wonderful descriptions about their daily routines, their income, what they most want in their lives etc. I must have given at least 10 copies away over time.

I’ll never travel to all these places or meet all these people. The book gives me a chance to do so through reading and careful observation. I learned so much! It reduced some of my biases that came from living in one environment surrounded by people much like myself with many of the same concerns. Peter did a similar book called “Hungry Planet” showing families surrounded by a month of the food they eat. It’s also fascinating.

Ok super. Let’s now shift to the main part of our discussion. There is no shortage of good ideas out there. Many people have good ideas all the time. But people seem to struggle in taking a good idea and translating it into an actual business. Can you share a few ideas from your experience about how to overcome this challenge?

When we think about startups, we generally only think about the ones that succeed. But, 90% of startups will fail. Creating something from nothing is hard. For most of us, it is the hardest thing we can do over our careers. There’s no question it will be a struggle.You may have a great idea but have gaps in how to execute or reach customers. As a founder, it is important to attract people who are better than you on these things. In the beginning, people are joining because of you, not the specifics of your idea. That’s also true of investors — you need to create a precise, succinct description of what you’re embarking on has potential. You’ll get lots of objections. That’s OK. Use it to make your idea better. You’ll be spending the next years of your life working on this so the feedback is a gift.

Often when people think of a new idea, they dismiss it saying someone else must have thought of it before. How would you recommend that someone go about researching whether or not their idea has already been created?

Launching first isn’t critical. Understanding the product your customers want is. Microsoft Zune launched a year before the Apple iPod. Zune’s tagline was “Welcome to the social.” iPod’s tagline was “1,000 songs in your pocket.” Apply understood its customers better than Microsoft did and that was reflected in the success of these two products over time.

If the market you will serve is of any meaningful size, it will support multiple vendors. Many of the world’s largest companies were not first to market. As a startup, you’re usually not competing with other vendors, but with non-consumption. Figure out what you can do differently or better than others in a way at least a portion of your target customer base will find overwhelmingly important.

What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me When I First Started Leading My Company” and why?

  1. Different is better than better. If you’re trying to disrupt an existing space, being 10% better or even 100% better, doesn’t matter. Your competitors are also talented, have a head start, and are lower risk. Ideally, you can be at least 10x better on two separate axes that your customers care about. When I launched Amazon Redshift, AWS’s cloud-native data warehouse, we led with a tagline of being “10x faster, 10x cheaper.” In that market segment, it was transformative and led to what, for a time, was AWS’s fastest growing service. We couldn’t have done so without building and selling differently from market segment incumbents.
  2. Celebrate the small victories. Day to day, it can seem like little is changing at your company. Your team will be heads down focusing on all the work that needs to be done. You need to regularly lift the teams’ eyes to see not just how far they have to go, but how far they have already come. Each new customer, new hire, and new release is a victory worth celebrating. No one outside your company, even your family, will understand these as well as the people you work with.
  3. Simplicity is a killer feature. Your customers struggle with the cognitive load of all the products intended to make their lives better. A simple solution, elegantly designed, purpose-built for the task they want solved will win over more sophisticated solutions that take time to learn. At one startup, we were in a POC requirements meeting along with the others involved in the bakeoff. By the end of the meeting, our solutions architect had finished building a model of what the customer needed while the other team had just created the requirements doc. Guess who won?
  4. Founder depression is real. Being a startup founder is difficult. Expectations are high. Your investors, first and foremost, have invested in you, as have your employees. You will need to keep an uplifting and optimistic demeanor for everyone but you’re also the person who they’ll reach out to for all their problems. It can create dissonance between the person you portray and your inner landscape. Many (most?) founders suffer from anxiety and depression. It is important to know that we all go through it and you will too. Perseverance is the most important quality for a founder.
  5. It isn’t a competition. Every day, you’ll hear about some great funding round or some awesome launch from some other company. The people you used to work with have gone on to do amazing things. It doesn’t matter. You’re not competing with them and there’s no point second-guessing your decision once you’ve set your path. Stay true to your vision and keep walking forward.

Let’s imagine that a reader reading this interview has an idea for a product that they would like to invent. What are the first few steps that you would recommend that they take?

The single best thing you can do when formulating a new idea is to have hundreds of conversations with your prospective customers. They may not understand what you plan to do or the underlying technology you’ll use. But, they can talk about whether they currently have pain or how this might enrich their life. This will also help you pare down what you are doing to the core value you’ll provide.

Second, you need to see if you can excite others to spend the next 5–10 years of their lives building and scaling the company. Startups are exceptionally risky in the beginning and none of us can succeed on our own.

If you can check both of those off, you’re in good shape and can plan what it takes to build the minimum awesome product that adequately meets your customers’ goals.

What are your thoughts about bootstrapping vs looking for venture capital? What is the best way to decide if you should do either one?

It depends on how much money one needs to have a testable hypothesis, to build a product, and to have others provide feedback. All founders are optimistic — you have to be a little crazy to do something as unlikely as starting a company. It helps to assume it’ll take twice as long to get your initial product built and twice as long to get to break even. If you can reduce burn, make the numbers work out, and don’t have to worry about others entering your space, you should certainly bootstrap — or at least delay fundraising until you have a lot to show. Of course, even if you raise, it is simply pragmatic to remain frugal and make the money last, just as though it came out of your own savings.

Ok. We are nearly done. Here are our final questions. How have you used your success to make the world a better place?

Over the past dozen years, my wife and I have focused our giving towards improving the quality of life of children and adults on the autism spectrum, with a focus on those considered severe. We do this in three ways. First, we fund basic science and translational research on interventions that improve quality of life for children and adults on the autism spectrum — such as support for the Suramin Phase I clinical trial at UCSD, the MTT Phase I clinical trial at ASU, pre-clinical research on mitochondria and metabolism in autism at Phoenix Children’s Hospital, and basic science research at Stanford on the pathophysiology of neurobehavioral exacerbations. Second, we believe children should be able to achieve based on their abilities, not their disabilities. We fund initiatives that help individuals with ASD who cannot speak fluently or handwrite access an age-appropriate education, such as support for the Autism and Communication Center at California Lutheran University. Third, through support for Communication First, we help educate the public, advocate for policy reform, and engage the judicial system to advance the rights, autonomy, opportunity, and dignity of people with speech-related communication disabilities and conditions.

Thank you for these fantastic insights. We greatly appreciate the time you spent on this.


Making Something From Nothing: Anurag Gupta Of Shoreline io On How To Go From Idea To Launch was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

Makers of The Metaverse: Erik Ashby Of Helpshift On The Future Of The VR, AR & Mixed Reality…

Makers of The Metaverse: Erik Ashby Of Helpshift On The Future Of The VR, AR & Mixed Reality Industries

An Interview With Fotis Georgiadis

Be connected; These experiences will grow as we connect to each other, and leverage each other. Some of the most powerful experiences will be based on open, decentralized technology. As someone who is making a career, this also implies a level of flexibility as you navigate to connect with others.

The Virtual Reality, Augmented Reality & Mixed Reality Industries are so exciting. What is coming around the corner? How will these improve our lives? What are the concerns we should keep an eye out for? Aside from entertainment, how can VR or AR help work or other parts of life? To address this, we had the pleasure of interviewing Erik Ashby.

Erik Ashby is the head of product at Helpshift, the world’s leading in-app mobile customer service platform that has been deployed on more than 2.5 billion mobile devices. Erik has spent his 25 year-career leading digital innovation in communication across the decades, working on such products as Microsoft Exchange, Office 365, and Microsoft Outlook. At Helpshift, Erik leads the company’s product and design teams as it creates the next generation of in-app customer service experiences for both mobile and the future metaverse.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dig in, our readers would like to get to know you a bit. Can you tell us a bit about your backstory and how you grew up?

I grew up in Southern California during the home computing revolution of the 80s, where I spent countless hours after school tinkering with an original Apple II computer, dialing into every mainframe I could find the number to, and playing every type of game that I could access, buy, still or copy. At my age, I was amazed at how enabling technology could be and even back then, how it was leveling the playing field.

Is there a particular book, film, or podcast that made a significant impact on you? Can you share a story or explain why it resonated with you so much?

The classic technology science fiction writers such as Isaac Asimov (The foundation series), Orson Scott Card (Ender’s Game), and now Earnist Cline (Ready Player One) all land at the top, and all require frequent re-visits. All these writers had a wonderful way of taking the technology and exploring the human aspect that is so important. Advances in technology are driven by our real and ongoing need to improve the human state.

Is there a particular story that inspired you to pursue a career in the X Reality industry? We’d love to hear it.

For me X-Reality is not about technology but instead about advancing the human connection. This comes from the first day, on my first job, where I was introduced to, what at the time was groundbreaking technology…. ‘Email’. It was amazing to me that with only a few keystrokes on my computer, plus a local area network, plus a server in the basement, plus a modem, plus a LOT of software, I could communicate with anyone in the world, provided that they also had a computer, and local area network, and server in their basement and a modem. It was amazing, and I knew that this was going to change the world, not because of the technology but because it connected humans, and I wanted to be a part of it.

It has been amazing to watch and be a part of the technology shifts over the years that have resulted in a world that is now more connected than ever in more engaging experiences all designed to enable and connect humans.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began this fascinating career?

It is interesting sometimes how being at the right place at the right time can set you down a path that will last a lifetime. My first entry into my career started with a very short interview where I was asked 2 simple questions. The first question was, “do you know what email is”. I answered ‘Yes’, although email was not at all common at that time, I had seen it briefly a few weeks before and was interested in what it could do. The second question was, “can you start tomorrow…”.

From there, there have been several global technology revolutions I have been able to witness and participate in — and I have enjoyed seeing how each has impacted the world.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

(Not sure how funny it is, but it was a great lesson for me) Early in my career I was working with a US armed forces base as they were trying out some new software that I was developing. One morning I received a call that an entire US air-force base communication system was off-line that morning and it was suspected that my software was at fault. I did not believe it, but after investigating, I came to find out that there was indeed a bug in my software that was the problem.

I boarded a plane that afternoon with a fix on a floppy disk in my hand and by morning I was sitting with a 4 star general explaining how this mistake took down his base. I was sure that this was the end, the trial would be over, but before I left, I felt he at least deserved an explanation. However, to my surprise he asked me to stay, to work with his team as they rolled out my software (yes with the fix!) and brought back up the base.

He expressed that although he had worked with many technology companies, he had never had someone actually fly out and give this level of personal attention to a problem. I realized that, even though I can personally be credited for taking down a US base (at least for a few days), it is not the technology but the human connection that, in the end, is what is most important.

Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?

This is simple. At Helpshift we are focused on creating amazing customer support experiences, which are designed specifically to help people. In my mind there is nothing more important in the world that technology can be focused on than to enable humans to be able to help out and lift up other humans anywhere, and at any time. With the advances in mobile, VR, and AR technologies we now have so many more ways to engage, connect and help each other, and as such it is super exciting to be developing these enabling experiences.

Ok super. Thank you for all that. Let’s now shift to the main focus of our interview. The VR, AR and MR industries seem so exciting right now. What are the 3 things in particular that most excite you about the industry? Can you explain or give an example?

As I look at these industries, and the advancement in technology, I get most excited about (A) the immersion factors, (B) the human factors, and © enabling factors.

  • A — These technologies are moving so fast and are creating worlds, experiences, journeys that we have never seen before, and it is so exciting every day to be introduced to something new, innovative that surrounds me, invites me in and has the power to invoke emotion.
  • B — To me what makes these interesting will be the human connections that are enabled through these new experiences. Beyond just the obvious chat rooms, and shared gaming experiences, brands will continue to push these new experiences to become more personal so that consumers are more connected. (Not less) (Think shopping, education/training, counciling, religion, etc).
  • C — This gets more into the decentralized technology that surrounds these industries, but as with previous technology revolutions, these technologies will create new economic opportunities as they continue to lower the entry requirements enabling more people to find new ways to contribute regardless of many of the factors that inhibit people today.

What are the 3 things that concern you about the VR, AR and MR industries? Can you explain? What can be done to address those concerns?

There are the obvious concerns of any social, and immersive technology of abuse and overuse that will constantly need to be addressed, but also as an industry we need to be careful that we do not distance ourselves from humanity.

Although the promise is to enable and deliver new/innovative experiences with openness and freedom, this industry will also be a reflection of who we are (as a global community), and has the negative potential of expanding abuse and overuse that we see today often with technology today. We need to be careful to create experiences that are safe for everyone and that reflect the best of what we should be. And most importantly, we need to leverage this technology and industry to help us connect (and not disconnect) with each other.

I think the entertainment aspects of VR, AR and MR are apparent. Can you share with our readers how these industries can help us at work?

Just as with other technology transitions, entertainment is usually the first to the game and paves the way for other industries. Specifically, the largest experiences today are social games and experiences where people, technology and the entertainment experience are mixed together.

There will be obvious extensions to other industries where human/service is important such as training, consulting, health care, education, and retail where these mixed experiences will do well.

As part of this we expect the service industry will change completely as VR, AR and MR become standard — and as brands look for better and scalable ways to make engaging support experiences. Imagine being able to virtually connect with service to get a problem solved directly in the virtual world, or having service be able to leverage AR/MR to direct and guide you to solving a problem.

So much here !

Are there other ways that VR, AR and MR can improve our lives? Can you explain?

AV, VR and MR are going to give brands new and better ways to serve and help their customers. Brands that see these experiences as an extension of their product / offering will also see how they can use these new experiences to support their customers.

What are the “myths” that you would like to dispel about working in your industry? Can you explain what you mean?

The biggest myth is that VR, AR and MR are not mainstream experiences and are only for gaming. Often these are seen as gaming tools, and gaming experiences, but not for the broad consumer scenarios. This is not true. The goal of VR, AR, and MR is to create engaging human experiences that are backed by powerful, mobile technology. This is a shared goal across all industries and given the advancements in mobile, I expect we will see more and more of these experiences showing up in all aspects of our lives, often in very subtle ways. Before long many consumers will be interacting with experiences from these industries and not realize that they are actually immersed in one of these.

What are your “5 Things You Need To Create A Highly Successful Career In The VR, AR or MR Industries?”

  • Be a human advocate; This industry will be great as we create experiences that use technology to solve human problems.
  • Be ready to help; This will be a new set of experiences for everyone; As you work with others in this field, as you work with consumers and as you create experiences, always include help, and support as part of the experience.
  • Be open to feedback; Again this is a new set of experiences for everyone, which means that we need feedback to make these industries great. Be willing to question everything you do, make, and be open to feedback. If you are creating experiences, create a feedback loop as part of the experience.
  • Be connected; These experiences will grow as we connect to each other, and leverage each other. Some of the most powerful experiences will be based on open, decentralized technology. As someone who is making a career, this also implies a level of flexibility as you navigate to connect with others.
  • Be different; This is a transition, this is a revolution, so as such we will need people that will create different and new experiences that have not been seen before and that will attract people to engage.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

Very simple, let’s use this new medium to connect with each other to help and uplift.

We are very blessed that very prominent leaders read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would like to have a private breakfast or lunch, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them 🙂

Malinda Gates, as she has dedicated much of her life to helping others; and I am excited as to what we can do.

Thank you so much for these excellent stories and insights. We wish you continued success on your great work!


Makers of The Metaverse: Erik Ashby Of Helpshift On The Future Of The VR, AR & Mixed Reality… was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

Mateen Motavaf Of SundaeSwap: 5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Became A CEO

An Interview With Fotis Georgiadis

You need to be passionate about your work — If you’re not passionate about your work, it’s going to be tough to succeed. You need to be willing to put in the hard work and dedication if you want to be a successful executive.

I had the pleasure of interviewing Mateen Motavaf. Mateen is the co-founder of SundaeSwap Labs, a decentralized finance (DeFi) protocol. Mateen is responsible for SundaeSwap Lab’s branding, business growth, talent acquisition, and UI/UX design.

In his work as a healthcare advocate, Mateen has pioneered two non-profit organizations where he manages and leads 20 researchers across the United States, publishing scientific papers and meta-analyses on a biweekly basis. The non-profits he currently runs are the Type One Advocates and Chronic Illness Education and Prevention Association Movement. These organizations aim to support people with type 1 diabetes and chronic diseases. Mateen makes a fervent effort to raise awareness regarding chronic diseases. Mateen and his team give lectures based on scientific education and modern research that help people with chronic illnesses to improve their quality of life through articles, healthy recipes, and motivational stories.

Thank you so much for joining us! Can you tell us the story about what brought you to this specific career path?

I have always had the approach that a career path should be one that is motivated by passion and making a difference. I believe that my generation has been one that really supports this type of thinking; that you should find an industry where you are driven and then the success will come naturally. Therefore, in areas such as my education, I pursued options that would help me to establish a solid foundation for the areas in which I care deeply. Additionally, I enjoy finding new and innovative solutions to modern-day puzzles. So when I have had opportunities to branch out into entrepreneurial ventures, I have been open to them. My background as a student of medicine has played a large role in being able to start the two nonprofits in areas where I am excited to be making a difference. Diabetes affects so many individuals around the world, as well as chronic pain. It seems as though more and more younger people are struggling with chronic pain while trying to lead busy lives as students, parents, business owners, and more. I am happy to support these ones and any that are struggling with the issues involving chronic pain and illnesses.

My start with using DeFi protocols came towards the end of 2020. Quickly after being introduced, I knew that I wanted to build something that contributed to this space myself. I chose Cardano due to it being the perfect blockchain to support Decentralized Finance in a way that would be even more user-friendly. Thus, SundaeSwap Labs was born.

Can you share one of the major challenges you encountered when first leading the company? And what lesson did you learn from that?

When you have a part in founding a business or nonprofit, everything is a new experience for you. I learned much about running a business along the way. While I was certainly up for this challenge, I still learned many valuable lessons throughout the process. For instance, I learned how to find the right people to work with. As I perfected the art of really being able to explain my vision to others, it became easier to find those whose values aligned with my own.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

The funniest mistake that I made when I was first starting out was probably the time when I almost forgot my own name as I was introducing myself to a potential investor. Sometimes you just get nervous and so laser-focused on what you are going to say about your venture, that your brain blocks out small bits of info that it thinks isn’t important at that moment, like my own name, I guess!

None of us is able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person you’re grateful to who helped you get to where you are? And can you share a story?

I’m grateful to my team of people who have been with me from the beginning. They are passionate about what we’re doing and are always willing to work hard. It is also very important to have a great group of mentors guiding you along the way. I will always be forever grateful to my mentors. I would also like to thank our investors who have faith in us and continue to support us. My family and friends have been great sources of support. Without them, I wouldn’t have been able to achieve what I have today.

As you know, the United States is currently facing a very important self-reckoning about race, diversity, equality and inclusion. This may be obvious to you, but it will be helpful to spell this out. Can you articulate to our readers a few reasons why it is so important for a business or organization to have a diverse executive team?

First, having a diverse team allows for different perspectives and ideas to be heard. This can help the company make better decisions and grow in a more holistic way. Second, a diverse team reflects the community that the company is serving. It’s important for companies to be aware of and represent the diversity of their customers or clients. Finally, it is more likely to be successful in the long run. A recent study found that companies with more diverse executive teams are more profitable and have a higher return on equity. So, having a diverse team is not only the right thing to do, but it’s also good for business. When choosing with whom you will be working, you should be focused on those that share your vision, both short and long-term. Companies that do not demonstrate equality and inclusion will no doubt fail to have the right ones working. The ones that are going to propel the company into the future and that deserve to be part of the company.

As a business leader, can you please share a few steps we must take to truly create an inclusive, representative, and equitable society? Kindly share a story or example for each.

We need to be aware of the privilege that we all have. We need to listen to marginalized groups and learn from their experiences. We also need to take action. We can’t just talk about being inclusive and representative, we need to do the work to make it happen. This includes things like hiring a diverse team, creating an equal playing field, and giving back to the community. I think it’s important to start with small steps and gradually make more changes as we become more aware. As a business leader, I will always support equal pay as well. The pay you earn should be based on your ability to do your job, and nothing else. As someone who is working to improve the health industry through my nonprofits, I, unfortunately, see the very real and damaging effects that things like not having access to proper medical care can have on those that are being discriminated against face. I hope to be a big part in changing issues such as these. As a society we should not stand for anyone receiving less than adequate healthcare.

Ok, thank you for that. Let’s now jump to the primary focus of our interview. Most of our readers — in fact, most people — think they have a pretty good idea of what a CEO or executive does. But in just a few words, can you explain what an executive does that is different from the responsibilities of the other leaders?

An executive is responsible for the overall success of the company. They make sure that the company is heading in the right direction and that all departments are working together towards common goals. They also oversee the financials of the company and make sure that it is profitable. Essentially, they are setting the tone for the whole company culture.

What are the “myths” that you would like to dispel about being a CEO or executive. Can you explain what you mean?

One is that you have to be ruthless and cutthroat in order to succeed. Another is that you have to be Ivy League-educated. I think both of these myths are damaging because they scare people away from pursuing these careers. The reality is that there are a lot of different paths to becoming a CEO or executive, and you don’t have to be perfect. You just need to be passionate about your work and be willing to put in the hard work.

What is the most striking difference between your actual job and how you thought the job would be?

There are a lot of long hours and a lot of responsibility, but it’s also very rewarding to see your company grow and succeed. I am also excited to see that the things I am accomplishing can make a big difference. Of course, you always want to make a difference and hope that you will, but actually seeing it and experiencing that you can have a far-reaching effect on people, is amazing.

Do you think everyone is cut out to be an executive? In your opinion, which specific traits increase the likelihood that a person will be a successful executive and what type of person should avoid aspiring to be an executive? Can you explain what you mean?

I don’t think everyone is cut out to be an executive. It takes a lot of hard work and dedication. You also need to be able to manage people and make tough decisions. I think it’s important to be humble and willing to learn. You also need to have thick skin because you’re going to face a lot of criticism.

What advice would you give to other business leaders to help create a fantastic work culture? Can you share a story or an example?

I would advise business leaders to be transparent and honest with their employees. They should also be willing to listen to feedback. I think it’s important to create a culture where employees feel comfortable speaking up and sharing their ideas. I remember having a job as a teenager where the work environment was not the best. I would see coworkers that were run down and not at all excited about their jobs. It came as no surprise to me when that establishment was shut down. You need to treat your employees well if you want to succeed.

How have you used your success to make the world a better place?

I think it’s important to give back to the community. I’m involved with a lot of charities and I try to donate money and time whenever I can. With my business and nonprofits, I also aim to help as many as possible, especially when it comes to bringing things into the hands of those that may never have been able to experience them before.

Fantastic. Here is the primary question of our interview. What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started” and why?

1. It’s going to be a lot of work — I think this is the biggest surprise for most people. The hours are long and the job is demanding, but it’s also very rewarding.

2. Be prepared to make tough decisions — As a CEO or executive, you’re going to have to make a lot of tough decisions. Sometimes you’re going to make the wrong decision, but you have to be willing to take risks and learn from your mistakes.

3. You need to be passionate about your work — If you’re not passionate about your work, it’s going to be tough to succeed. You need to be willing to put in the hard work and dedication if you want to be a successful executive.

4. You’re going to face a lot of criticism — As a CEO or executive, you’re going to face a lot of criticism. You need to have thick skin and be prepared to take it in stride.

5. It’s important to give back to the community — I think it’s important to give back to the community and support charities. I also think it’s important to hire people from marginalized groups and give them a chance to succeed.

So, you are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would enhance people’s lives in some way, what would it be? You never know what your idea could trigger.

I would like to see a movement where people are more conscious about their spending and saving habits. I think it’s important for people to be aware of the importance of financial literacy and how it can help them in the long run. Educating people on the different aspects of finance can help them make better financial decisions for themselves and their families.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

“Don’t be afraid to give up the good to go for the best.” This is a quote by John D. Rockefeller and I think it’s important to remember this whenever you’re making a big decision. You need to be willing to sacrifice short-term gratification for long-term success.

We are very blessed that some very prominent names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them.

Someone that I admire, whom I would enjoy having a great conversation with, would be Thom Scher. We have some common interests as Thom is the CEO of Beyond Type 1. Beyond Type 1 is a nonprofit organization dedicated to redefining what it means to live with diabetes. Beyond Type 1 is uniting the worldwide diabetes community through platforms, initiatives, resources, and grants in order to provide solutions now.

Thank you for these fantastic insights. We greatly appreciate the time you spent on this.


Mateen Motavaf Of SundaeSwap: 5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Became A CEO was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

Meet The Disruptors: Nicholas Mercadante Of Pursue Care On The Five Things You Need To Shake Up…

Meet The Disruptors: Nicholas Mercadante Of Pursue Care On The Five Things You Need To Shake Up Your Industry

An Interview With Fotis Georgiadis

“Learn to let things go and keep moving forward” — Being an entrepreneur is anxiety-inducing. You really do have to let things roll off your back so you don’t get bogged down. Whether it is negativity, a mistake, or a failed effort…it is all progress if you let it be.

As a part of our series about business leaders who are shaking things up in their industry, I had the pleasure of interviewing Nicholas Mercadante, JD CEO & Founder of PursueCare.

Nicholas Mercadante is Founder and CEO of PursueCare, a virtual addiction treatment platform shifting the paradigm for how people access lasting recovery from substance use disorder. He is a healthcare veteran holding numerous leadership positions including President and COO of MedOptions, a national provider of behavioral healthcare to long-term care that developed a first-of-its-kind skilled nursing telemedicine program. Mr. Mercadante graduated from Tulane Law School and is a licensed attorney consulting with venture-backed digital health products and services companies.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dig in, our readers would like to get to know you a bit more. Can you tell us a bit about your “backstory”? What led you to this particular career path?

I grew up stocking shelves and working at my father’s pharmacy, which eventually grew into a national chain and public company. I got to see first-hand what success through entrepreneurship and “sweat equity” really looks like. I also learned that working in healthcare gives you a mission you can feel good about every day.

I’ve always been driven to try to solve the most challenging problems. To me, it’s exciting and rewarding to figure out a complex puzzle. I guess that is what pushed me toward a law degree initially, and eventually toward behavioral health.

I also had a personal experience with pain management that opened my eyes to what is going on with substance use disorder. I was diagnosed with Ulcerative Colitis, a GI condition, when I was in college. It eventually became extremely severe and required a number of surgeries to remove a cancerous colon. In lead up to that, and for a time after, I was dependent on opioid pain medication to get through my day. I had an incredible team of providers that monitored my pain and utilization of powerful pain meds. I’m not sure it would’ve gone the same if I didn’t have the benefit of great care. It really gave me perspective about what others face. There are so many external factors facing people trying to get good behavioral health care. Barriers based on social determinants like where you live, and how much money you have. Nowhere is it more clear than in substance use treatment, where patients are frequently stigmatized and penalized for what is truly a medical and mental health condition.

All of this propelled me toward investing myself in trying to solve for treatment disparities. That was the basis for PursueCare.

Can you tell our readers what it is about the work you’re doing that’s disruptive?

Most people don’t have access to addiction treatment in their community, or it is frequently not something they can easily transition into from other points of care they might pass through.

PursueCare is a virtual clinic for addiction treatment. We focus on providing easy, low barrier access to evaluation and treatment for addiction through technology. We collaborate with settings that act as “front doors” for people experiencing substance use dependency or disorder.

We bridge a gap that people frequently experience: when they go to their primary care provider, community health, urgent care, or even a hospital, they infrequently receive a warm handoff into treatment that can help them thereafter to tackle their condition. We use a combination of technology integration and human care coordination support to help both the on-site medical providers, and the patient to engage with a treatment program they can take home with them and continue through our app.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

There are so many embarrassing moments when you’re the founder of a startup. You’re constantly fluctuating between overconfidence and imposter syndrome. And you’re frequently moving really fast. Even though I am a lawyer, I went ahead and signed the wrong version of a really important contract and locked myself into a set of terms that I had previously revised but failed to send to our vendor. I had to go hat in hand and ask for a take back…as a lawyer!

You learn pretty quickly that you really need to slow down sometimes, get organized, and ask for help when you need it.

We all need a little help along the journey. Who have been some of your mentors? Can you share a story about how they made an impact?

I have had so many exceptional mentors. My most impactful has been my father, who is an entrepreneur and innovator in healthcare. He’s taught me so much, but one of the most significant lessons that has impacted my own path revolves around how you build up your team. I learned from a young age that fostering the personal and professional success of your team will ultimately ensure your own success as a leader. It’s really what being a leader is all about: helping others to do their best by reinforcing their sense of purpose within a shared mission, vision, and set of core values. When you make your team the owners of the end goal, you don’t have to tow them along with you because they’re the ones pushing you and the organization.

In today’s parlance, being disruptive is usually a positive adjective. But is disrupting always good? When do we say the converse, that a system or structure has ‘withstood the test of time’? Can you articulate to our readers when disrupting an industry is positive, and when disrupting an industry is ‘not so positive’? Can you share some examples of what you mean?

I am very leery of the wave of venture and private equity-backed digital health point solutions that used the widespread deregulation experienced during the COVID-19 public health emergency to generate rapid profit, without adequately building infrastructure that actually helps patients with varying needs reach better health outcomes. I think technology can help to positively disrupt, or, more aptly, innovate, in areas of healthcare that need improvement, like addiction treatment. But the “move fast, break things” mentality and the commoditization of healthcare is dangerous. Healthcare is complex, deeply personal, and individualized. The rush to turn healthcare companies into unicorns rewards near-term profit motives over practicing high quality care that accounts for that. It doesn’t sit well with me.

You can disrupt a complex industry by finding inefficiencies or inequities and addressing those. But you always have to make your customer, or in our case the patient, the focus and ask how it will impact them now and in the future. If you’re trying to create efficiencies just to generate more profit faster…you’re going to hurt someone.

Can you share five of the best words of advice you’ve gotten along your journey? Please give a story or example for each.

Simple stuff always seems to have the most impact on me.

“Get a planner” — As an entrepreneur and a leader you’re inevitably going to wear too many hats. Nobody can keep it all straight. Get a planner and use it, religiously.

“Block focus time” — Related to the above. CEOs frequently lose track of their time because they’re pulled in many directions. Time blocking is a tacti I use to keep myself productive and to give myself time and space I need to focus on key projects.

“Get some sleep” — Easier said than done when you’re throwing yourself into the deep end in what you do. I really try to maximize my days and nights. But sometimes you just have to shut it down and get rest to be at your best. Try blocking sleep just like you block other time in your day. And staying on schedule with it if you can. It makes a big difference, even for those of us who don’t sleep enough.

“Reward the effort, not the result” — As a leader, I try to focus on the attempt, the great effort, and the passion of my team to do the work. And I try to foster continuous improvement. You can’t have it both ways though. You can’t get on someone’s case because they didn’t get the result you wanted to achieve, or they made a mistake. You’ll lose them even faster if you spend your days constantly trying to pin down who is at fault. So try to reward great effort and positive progress. That recognition of effort will compel your team to run through walls for you. That will ultimately, eventually, get the results you’re hoping for.

“Learn to let things go and keep moving forward” — Being an entrepreneur is anxiety-inducing. You really do have to let things roll off your back so you don’t get bogged down. Whether it is negativity, a mistake, or a failed effort…it is all progress if you let it be.

We are sure you aren’t done. How are you going to shake things up next?

Right now my goal is to continue to innovate in how we deliver whole-person substance use disorder treatment in this country. We want to try to help as many people find better health as we can. We are developing really cutting-edge interventions for people who use drugs. To name a few:

  • Adding in-app pharmacy tools for patients so that they can chat live with our pharmacy and have medication delivered, avoiding stigmatizing trips to the local pharmacy for Suboxone;
  • Natural language processing assessments at partnering points of care to help recognize condition acuity and sentiment so that we can better triage and transition people to the right level of care;
  • Working with health plans to develop value-based continuums of care for addiction treatment that bring evidence-based in-network resources to their members that traditionally would not be covered by insurance.

Do you have a book, podcast, or talk that’s had a deep impact on your thinking? Can you share a story with us? Can you explain why it was so resonant with you?

I highly recommend reading “The Weight of Air: A Story of the Lies about Addiction and the Truth about Recovery,” by David Poses. David sadly passed away earlier this year, after writing this profoundly impactful memoir. It is a sometimes brutal read, but an absolutely critical one at this moment.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

“Wherever you are, be all there” — pretty self-explanatory. If you don’t make yourself present in what you do you’ll either fail to put your best foot forward, or you simply won’t appreciate what you’re doing. It goes for work, family, and not texting while driving. Pretty simple rule, but one that is surprisingly hard for people to commit to.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

I really believe that what we are doing at PursueCare, and what other great organizations in our space are doing, is the movement I want to inspire. A movement toward broader access to lifechanging healthcare for people who use drugs and people with mental health issues. And a movement toward destigmatizing mental health so that it is treated as what it is: part of the human condition and something we can all talk about, ask for help on, and get care when we need it.

How can our readers follow you online?

I am on LinkedIn sharing my thoughts on digital health and addiction treatment advocacy.

Twitter (@nmercad) for unadulterated me — you’ll have to deal with the hockey and Italian soccer talk.

This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for joining us!


Meet The Disruptors: Nicholas Mercadante Of Pursue Care On The Five Things You Need To Shake Up… was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

The Future Is Now: Ken Dalley Jr On How Their Technological Innovation Will Shake Up The Tech Scene

An Interview With Fotis Georgiadis

Don’t worry about your competition. Worry about your customers.

As a part of our series about cutting edge technological breakthroughs, I had the pleasure of interviewing Ken Dalley Jr.

Ken Dalley Jr. is Founder, Chairman, and Chief Warrior of GUARDIAN RFID. He has pioneered inmate tracking technologies for U.S. correctional facilities for nearly twenty years, focusing on leveraging technology to protect the 480,000 correctional officers who defend our nation’s jails and prisons.

Since its founding, Dalley has transformed GUARDIAN RFID into a premiere public safety technology company, recognized by Inc. 5000 as the 396th fastest growing software company in the U.S. in 2021, and as a 2021 U.S. Technology Innovator by KPMG. Dalley was a finalist for the 2021 EY Entrepreneur of the Year.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?

Technologists in the late 1990s predicted that mobile computing would be one of the fastest growing technology vectors since the personal computer. Mobile devices would be more prevalent than PCs by an order of magnitude, and forever alter the way people interacted with information and each other.

I was an English major and my senior college capstone project was to create a business around publishing. Electronic publishing (e-book devices) was an emerging device category at that time, as were Pocket PCs, which began to compete against Palm Pilots. So, I created a business plan around a mock company called Codex Corp., in homage to ancient manuscripts, which was focused on creating mobile devices, applications, and content.

After graduation, I started my job as a stockbroker, but found myself focusing more on building prototypes of an e-book reader. With my dad’s encouragement, I decided to bring Codex Corp. to life, and formally incorporated the company on September 7, 2001.

Three years after founding Codex Corp., we began piloting some of our technology centered around mobile computing and RFID technology for jails. That’s when we deployed our first beta version of our platform, now known as GUARDIAN RFID, at the Hardin Co. Jail in Eldora, Iowa.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?

We’ve had the distinct pleasure of deploying specialized applications for projects that are or were confidential. One of the most interesting deployments of our technology was for the U.S. Army, in which we helped to enroll and track Americans and green card holders from Kabul, Afghanistan in August 2021. In one weekend, we customized and deployed a specialized platform for the Army, complete with 100,000 RFID wristbands and mobile devices, as well as helped track the evacuation of thousands of Americans and Afghans from the Kabul Airbase.

I worked with our software development managers and certain members of our development team for 48 hours straight over the weekend — basically not sleeping Friday or Saturday — except for short breaks. What we needed to do wasn’t particularly complex, but what we lacked, was time. So, we built, tested, and shipped software that would’ve ordinarily taken two weeks in one weekend while remotely training members of the 10th Mountain Division on how to utilize this specialized platform.

Can you tell us about the cutting-edge technological breakthroughs that you are working on? How do you think that will help people?

Our team recently announced Command Cloud, a first-of-its-kind officer experience platform (OXP) designed to equip correctional officers with all the tools required to create safe and secure environments. Command Cloud is an integrated suite of applications and services that deliver a common operating picture (COP) — a consolidated display of relevant information designed to improve awareness, collaboration, insight and discoverability among corrections officers in any facility. It leverages new and existing cameras, RFID and vision systems, and will integrate with more than 80 different applications currently in use today in correctional facilities, including offender management, jail management, and case management systems.

Based on the most sophisticated computer vision, RFID, facial recognition, machine learning/AI, and mobile technologies on the market, Command Cloud enables real-time situational awareness, a term used in public safety to refer to complete visibility into operational data and context that leads to fast decision-making.

Historically, correctional facilities — which employ more than 480,000 individuals in the United States — have relied on paper reporting and siloed technology systems for operational awareness. This has left them with critical blind spots, some of which can be a matter of life and death.

This technology has the power to put critical information in the hands of officers to address those blind spots. Using Command Cloud, officers can use real-time surveillance and insights to enable safer facilities for all.

How do you think this might change the world?

Correctional professionals have one the highest rates of non-fatal, work-related injuries of any profession in the United States. Labor shortages and safety concerns have left the U.S. correctional system with a deadly mental health crisis. As these brave men and women work to keep their facilities and themselves safe, their mental health has suffered. Command Cloud can enable teams to streamline tasks and ensure officers are using their time efficiently, allowing them to spend the appropriate amount of time on the critical tasks that keep their facility safe. By using cameras and machine learning, officers can feel a sense of relief knowing they have a complex surveillance system supporting and notifying them of any critical safety concern that may have been missed.

There is no single solution that will solve this mental health crisis, but we feel confident that Command Cloud can enable officers to feel supported and equipped on the job with the only officer experience platform tailored to their specific needs as correctional officers.

Keeping “Black Mirror” in mind, can you see any potential drawbacks about this technology that people should think more deeply about?

Fotis, we would like to skip this question. Thank you.

Was there a tipping point that led you to this breakthrough? Can you tell us that story?

In October of 2017, four correctional officers were murdered by inmates who were attempting to escape the Pasquotank Correctional Institution in North Carolina. Veronica Darden, Justin Smith, Wendy Shannon, and Geoff Howe all brutally lost their lives. Eight other jail employees also were injured. The inmates were able to follow through with the attack using tools they had collected from the workshop in the facility over time. Due to understaffing and growing inmate populations, only one officer was typically responsible for overseeing 30 inmates in the workshop, which allowed inmates to discreetly stash tools for days leading up to the attack.

Unfortunately, stories like this aren’t rare. Correctional officers have one of the most dangerous jobs in the United States, exposing themselves to extreme situations where they are vulnerable and without weapons to defend themselves. We knew we had to develop a tool that can provide officers with the situational awareness that can prevent these types of attacks.

Command Cloud’s computer vision capabilities include the ability to monitor and track workshop tools as inmates are using them. The camera can capture who is removing a tool from storage using face recognition, what tool it is they are taking, and alert officers if the tool is not returned in the appropriate amount of time. This advanced AI technology can help facilities avoid tragedies like the one at the Pasquotank Correctional Institution.

We feel so proud that our technology has the power to save lives, but we know our work is not done. The sacrifices that Officer Darden, Officer Smith, Officer Shannon, and Officer Howe made in 2017 continue to fuel our passion to create safer correctional facilities for all.

What do you need to lead this technology to widespread adoption?

Technological adoption has the potential to upset the status quo in every industry, but it can be a larger hurdle for industries that are used to manual reporting, like corrections.

For us to lead this technology into widespread adoption, we work with facility leaders to ensure their teams feel comfortable and confident using our tech. Helping facilities understand the value the technology has in addressing officer mental health, labor shortages, growing prison populations, and increased safety concerns is our job. And it is a job we take very seriously.

We have been so fortunate to work with amazing customers across the country who have adopted our technology in their facilities and proven how successful getting outside of the industry norm can be. I have a feeling it won’t be long until Command Cloud is the new industry norm as facilities continue to adopt technology in order to improve their safety and security.

What have you been doing to publicize this idea? Have you been using any innovative marketing strategies?

When deciding how to launch our Command Cloud product, we knew we wanted to bring industry leaders together to not only discuss the exciting technological developments but also celebrate all the work they do daily to keep America’s correctional facilities safe for all.

We hosted a large-scale, heavily produced virtual event in April, VISION 22. The event featured exciting presentations from the GUARDIAN RFID team followed by breakout sessions where attendees could chat directly with our team and ask questions. It was extremely successful. We were able to connect with customers, prospects, and media to discuss this first-of-its-kind technology and how it will change the corrections industry for good. Now we can focus on VISION 23, making it even stronger and more exciting.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

Without hesitation, my dad was the biggest champion of my starting GUARDIAN RFID. He was entrepreneurial himself. Earlier in my dad’s career, he was the vice president of Comserv, which was the first publicly traded software company in Minnesota. After five years, he acquired the mainframe computing division and ran this company for 30 years. My dad understood the tenacity and resolve it takes to start a company. While I’m not sure that I would’ve had the same confidence in myself that my dad had, he at least saw that I would take the opportunity seriously, and provided some of the early capital and guidance in the first few years of the company’s existence.

How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?

Correctional officers face the highest rate of non-fatal work-related injuries of any profession in the United States. Corrections is also one of the most litigious, and indeed highest risk departments in any local or state government. Our technology works to protect the 480,000+ correctional officers who work in our nation’s jails and prisons.

When you’re arrested and go to jail, you lose many rights, and you gain others. Our technology serves correctional officers by enabling them to execute better coordinated and efficient oversight of the entire inmate population. At the same time, we’re able to ensure that inmates gain access to essential care and services required by law, whether that’s access to medicine, medical care, nutrition, or program activities.

GUARDIAN RFID supports stakeholders on all sides. We strengthen the safety and defensibility of correctional officers while ensuring that essential services and care are delivered to inmates. We create the transparency that Americans are increasingly demanding of its government agencies.

As part of our success, we also created a 501(c)(3) called the Warrior Foundation, whose mission is to support the men and women of America’s Thin Gray Line through scholarships and financial aid.

What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started” and why.

1. Interweaving your culture and mission is one of the most important and powerful competitive advantages you can create.

It took us nearly 15 years to figure this out, and while we might not have mastered it today, we’re in the deep end of this. Folding your mission, vision and values into our culture and brand was a definite watershed moment.

A few years back, we looked more closely at our industry, specifically our end users. Nearly 40% had military experience. We needed an aspirational rallying cry around our software. It had to be empowering and ambitious, conveying strength combined with courage. It couldn’t be sterile. It had to be authentic. And it couldn’t simply describe what we do. So we created a tagline called “Warrior Technology” and we decided to call our end users “Warriors,” not just “customers,” “clients,” or “end users.”

We created specially branded “Warrior” hoodies and gave away at least 500 in the first year to our VIP users.

To this day, we believe interweaving “Warrior” with our mission to protect America’s Thin Gray Line — an emblem that represents corrections professionals — has created more of a movement than us simply leading with uninspiring talk about best-in-class products or features, which fails to motivate.

2. Place greater emphasis on your company’s values and what you stand for, and less on features and functions.

Every industry has its own needs beyond the problems that your products or services may address. You need to figure out what these are and focus on them as much as the problems your products help solve. This helps accelerate your thought leadership development.

In late February 2020, the American Jail Association was circulating a slide deck by Dr. Anne Spaulding, an infectious disease specialist from Emory University in Atlanta, about the potential spread of COVID-19 to jails. Since we have a video production team, we thought it would be an ideal way to use their talent to create timely educational content about a topic of emerging concern.

I called Dr. Spaulding and asked if she would be willing to shoot a video about her slide content at one of our customer sites on the east coast. She agreed. Our customer, the St. Mary’s County Sheriff’s Office in Maryland, volunteered the use of their jail for the production. Within 72 hours, Dr. Spaulding and our team were on a flight to Reagan National Airport, filming on March 12. The video quickly went into post production and was promptly uploaded to our YouTube channel on March 16. Many states went into shelter-in-place orders the following week.

It was a good example of seeing and acting on something that benefited jails nationally but had nothing to do with our products or services.

3. Hire employees who bring energy and clarity.

Be on the lookout for really smart employees who make complex tasks become simple. Identify those who don’t just radiate positive energy, but who see things others don’t and can actually deliver on their outside-the-box thinking. These people are transformative contributors who are competitive advantages unto themselves.

4. Don’t worry about your competition. Worry about your customers.

There can be an inclination to focus more on your competition in the early days of any new company. Don’t. One of the most important stakeholders you can obsess about is your customer base (the other includes your employees). Know your customers like the back of your hand. Focus obsessively on their needs, fears, and frustrations. This is what we call being “Warrior-Led,” which is our number one core value.

Get to product/market fit as soon as possible. Don’t worry about what your competition is doing or saying. Don’t imitate them. Being customer-obsessed ensures you’re investing your time and energy where value can be created.

5. Your life experiences will teach you if you listen.

Some of our best learning opportunities are unintended discoveries. Take time to self-reflect. Leaders and entrepreneurs can be hard-charging characters. Slow down. Synthesize data. Reset or regroup and try again.

I remember visiting a jail in rural Wisconsin in 2007 for training. On the day we showed up, neither the staff nor the supervisors had been told we were coming, what they were deploying, or how our software was going to be used. We looked like complete fools. We were treated even worse. The first day of training resulted in more justification about why the product existed than curiosity about the product itself and how it worked.

Needless to say, that training experience made for a long, four-day effort. However, it resulted in one of the best breakthrough process changes we still use to this day.

To avoid challenges like this, we schedule what’s called a “pre-training meeting” for each new customer. We virtually walk through our software platform with every supervisor and select power user, and review the policies and procedures that will be impacted by our software.

By the time we come on-site for training, virtually every member of line staff is now familiar with why we’re there, what changes they should expect to policy and procedure, and why they’re using GUARDIAN RFID. This makes for a far-improved, streamlined learning experience for our training team. It also builds buy-in at all levels for using our software.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

While it’s well known that our military service members have high rates of post-traumatic stress injury (PTSI). What’s less well known is that correctional officers suffer PTSIs at rates equal to those with military experience. An average of three correctional officers commit suicide each week in the United States.

Corrections professionals serve a unique and crucial role in American law enforcement. They are first responders, caregivers, and counselors, while managing safety and security. Every correctional officer is equipped only with their resourcefulness, self-discipline and interpersonal skills. They have no weapon to rely on and are generally outnumbered four to one.

Americans, in general, have little understanding of, and certainly a limited appreciation for, the role correctional officers play in the safety of our communities. Correctional officers lack tremendously in the mental health support they need.

Can you please give us your favorite VC “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

“The key to everything is patience. You get the chicken by hatching the egg, not by smashing it.”

Arnold Henry Glasow, a successful American businessman.

It has taken our team 7,571 days to get where we are today. Some markets take longer to mature than others. We jokingly say that the fictional TV company Dunder Mifflin is our biggest competitor, because corrections isn’t known for its trailblazing reputation.

GUARDIAN RFID was the first company in law enforcement to combine radio frequency identification, mobile, and Cloud computing as standard technologies. Seventeen years ago, we had to explain how an RFID tag worked, because the technology was mystifying then.

In the early 2000s, mobile devices were historically clunky, not particularly durable and expensive. Today, it’s a completely different world with low-cost, highly capable devices surrounding us. There’s very little in our lives that isn’t touched in some way by digital technology.

Trying to persuade the government to store their data on someone else’s server, accessible only through a Web browser, was a conversation that was a lot more challenging in 2005. Today, there’s an expectation of the cloud, and we see a deeper, more sophisticated understanding of cloud computing and security than ever before.

You need to have the patience to allow the market, and sometimes certain technology vectors, to mature at a pace that you can’t control. You cannot outrun the market. Patience will always be as important as tenacity.

Some very well-known VCs read this column. If you had 60 seconds to make a pitch to a VC, what would you say? He or she might just see this if we tag them 🙂

There are 480,000 correctional officers responsible for tracking nearly two million inmates every day, yet the predominant technology systems they rely on are analog and paper-based. GUARDIAN RFID is a public safety technology company that maximizes the safety and security of those who are responsible for enforcing the law, and those who are in their custody through a fusion of data from traditionally disparate systems, powered by AI.

How can our readers follow you on social media?

YouTube: GUARDIAN RFID

LinkedIn: @Guardianrfid

Facebook: @Guardianrfid

Twitter: @Guardianrfid

Thank you so much for joining us. This was very inspirational.


The Future Is Now: Ken Dalley Jr On How Their Technological Innovation Will Shake Up The Tech Scene was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

Makers of The Metaverse: Brad Martin Of Another Reality Studio On The Future Of The VR, AR & Mixed…

Makers of The Metaverse: Brad Martin Of Another Reality Studio On The Future Of The VR, AR & Mixed Reality Industries

An Interview With Fotis Georgiadis

Just take the step to get started in some fashion. Many people want to make career changes or want to be a certain thing “when they grow up,” but oftentimes, it seems out of reach, and people don’t make moves towards getting there. I would encourage you just to take whatever the next step is (no matter how small) and just get started in some fashion. It may lead to something sooner than you know!

The Virtual Reality, Augmented Reality & Mixed Reality Industries are so exciting. What is coming around the corner? How will these improve our lives? What are the concerns we should keep an eye out for? Aside from entertainment, how can VR or AR help work or other parts of life? To address this, we had the pleasure of interviewing Brad Martin, Founder and CEO of Another Reality Studio.

Brad Martin is Founder and CEO of Another Reality Studio, where he has overseen the creative and technical direction since 2013. He is a subject matter expert and is an in-demand speaker on virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR), and mixed reality (MR) technologies and services. Brad is one of the top-rated developers on Upwork and has been published in multiple articles, including Forbes, Fast Company, and CNBC. He is an innovative and creative thought leader who brings new technology, project management, and ideation to clients and industries.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dig in, our readers would like to get to know you a bit. Can you tell us a bit about your backstory and how you grew up?

I grew up in St. Louis, MO, from birth throughout high school (Oakville Senior High). I have always been very into playing sports and watching movies (perhaps what many kids did). Right after high school, I moved to Columbia, MO, where I attended the University of Missouri to study architecture and interior design. After graduating in 2012, I moved back to St. Louis and worked for a couple of Architecture firms. Throughout my entire collegiate and professional career, I was focused on showing the end-user what designs and spaces would look like once built by using realistic rendering and animation. I was always interested in using the latest technology and most immersive methods. In 2010, I started to get involved with the Oculus Developer kit 1 for testing Virtual Reality (VR) for architecture. It was immediately apparent to me that it was the future. I began to look for career paths for any and all VR development, which led to 5 job offers, but all on the coasts and away from the Midwest. My wife, Renee, and I were interested in sticking around the area, friends, and family. Luckily one of the offers, based out of New York City, offered a remote position. I worked for Floored (prior to CBRE acquisition) creating online walkthroughs for architecture and office space planning. Unfortunately, after only a few months of working for Floored and the company made a pivot to autonomous space planning instead. At this point, Renee encouraged me to keep doing what I enjoyed the most with the consulting relationships I had made, and I began to work with other companies in many industries developing VR applications; so once the Floored company pivoted, I moved into full-time contracting. I solo contracted for a little over one year until I was too busy to complete my workload alone, and shortly after, Mauricio Espin joined me, and we founded a company called Another Reality Studio. Mauricio and I are very similar; we are still kids at heart playing games and turning our hobby and love of XR into a career. Now we are able to offer the same to 26 other employees and contractors. I still play sports (just started ice hockey!) and absolutely love animation films and movies. I have already started watching some with my 10-month-old son, Milo.

Is there a particular book, film, or podcast that made a significant impact on you? Can you share a story or explain why it resonated with you so much?

When “Despicable Me” came out in 2010, it really highlighted how much I loved animations and visual experiences to engage people. In another life, I would be creating short films or feature-length animations. Regardless, it really opened up my imagination of how visualizations and animations can emotionally connect with people.

Another completely different topic of books that really impacted my life were Intercessor, a biography of Rees Howells, and The Normal Christian Life by Watchman Nee, a book that brought simplicity and clarity to complex theologies and purposes. Both of these books have encouraged me lately in the “why” I do what I do and help bring perspective and purpose to my future and life goals.

Is there a particular story that inspired you to pursue a career in the X Reality industry? We’d love to hear it.

When I was in college, my friends and I were into gaming and building computers. My friend, Luke, had found online that Oculus (a nobody name at the time really) had just come out with their Developer Kit 1 headset (DK1). At this time, I had some experience modeling and rendering spaces as well as exploring some technologies like stereoscopic rendering and VRML walkthroughs, but nothing major. I went over to check out the DK1, and we downloaded a game called Windlands, which was an exploration/puzzle game. The second I put on the headset, I was enthralled with the game and exploring not only the low-poly, stylized environment but exploring VR and its impact on me, the user. I would sneak over to his house while he was out and continue playing. It’s what opened my mind and excitement to how VR can be used for exploring spaces (architecture), and from then on, my goal was to push realism in VR and XR technologies.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began this fascinating career?

This career path has been one surprise after another. Honestly, my intention was not to start a company necessarily and definitely not to have a 28-person team. I was so interested in the XR technologies that I began freelancing outside of my day job in architecture and interior design. I would get online (odesk/Upwork) or reach out to local contacts in architecture to pick up rendering jobs and always try to sell the “next best thing” that included lots of ideas surrounding XR. When consulting work picked up and was too much for me to handle alone, I reached out to an online contact, Mauricio Espin, who was also interested in XR, to see if he wanted to help out on a project. At the time, there were not many people in XR, so finding groups and people on the internet, you came to know who people in the industry were. Mauricio joined me on a project, and we clicked and worked so well together that we stayed working on all projects together and eventually started ARS with me as CEO and Mauricio as CTO. The interesting part was that we worked together for around one and a half or two years, talking every day online (discord) and hanging out online (games), but we did not actually meet in person until a work trip brought us to the same spot. Mauricio is now one of my best friends (and obviously a partner at ARS) whom I continue to speak with daily as we grow the company, but more importantly, enjoy what we do and offer the same to others. It goes to show that technology can be used in so many ways, and is very important to explore the possibilities of tech! So I guess the sum up of the most interesting story for me is that two random guys met online with a shared interest in VR and started a business together, not meeting in person for a couple years later.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

With new and emerging technologies, there are always challenges and bugs to work through that have no posted solution online; you are literally paving the way for the technologies. One of the toughest challenges that remains today is estimating and scoping an XR project due to the unknowns and possibilities clients only understand once you get into development. One day I was meeting with a friend at a different architecture firm in St. Louis and showing some VR use cases without knowing that they were in the middle of finalizing plans for a new office and planning an opening party for clients, family, and friends the following Monday. He asked how long it would take to see something in VR for the event, which is a very vague question that has lots of directions… My mistake was agreeing that we could likely get something in VR for the event, and I would get started. I did not leave my office from that Thursday talk until that Monday night to bring them a VR solution (on the GearVR) that was a walkthrough for their office. I learned a lot along the way about estimating and agreeing to timelines. Luckily, this one worked out and can just be a funny memory!

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

I had a mentor at the University of Missouri (Mizzou) that encouraged, pushed, and gave opportunities to me that drove my desires, knowledge, and understanding of emerging and immersive technologies, Bimal Balakrishnan. Bimal started out as my professor in design communication, teaching me the proper tools to visualize and showcase designs through traditional means like sketching to advanced methods like rendering and animation. After my first class with him sophomore year, I continued to meet with him and learn. Bimal invested time in me by involving me in our iLab setup (an immersive lab with emerging tech hardware), helping me receive funded research grants, and keeping me aware of all technologies and how to use them throughout my undergrad. After college, Bimal and I stayed in touch, and he continued to dream with me on how these technologies could be used, giving me advice as I pursued consulting and other jobs in the industry. He would always push me to do something that hasn’t been done before and find a good/purposeful use of the technologies. Years later, Bimal became an advisor to ARS in research and development and has brought opportunities in grants and clients. Although Bimal is still a mentor and advisor, he is also a friend.

Also, a huge shoutout to Arch Grants, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit with a mission to transform the economy in St. Louis by attracting and retaining extraordinary entrepreneurs, for all the help they are and have been in the recent past! Arch Grants awarded ARS $50,000 in non-equity funding through its annual Startup Competition in 2021 for our Looking Glass platform for its high-fidelity architecture design communication tool and VR viewer. ARS is partnering with Arch Grants as much as we can; their purpose is amazing and the people there are inspirational!

Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?

Yes, many! As a development agency that brings XR tech into other companies, we have loads of opportunities to dream with clients and use the technology in a fun and creative way; I think every project that we work on is exciting and has tons of potential to bring benefits in the product or service of ANY industry. One example of a very useful and “cool” project is a safety training that we are doing for one of the largest oil and gas companies in the US. We are using virtual reality to train and educate thousands of employees. The goal is to animate and showcase real-world, dangerous tasks that take place on an oil drilling site in an immersive and fully dynamic VR scene. The user then walks through the experience and can recognize safety issues that are taking place and point them out to pause the event until it is addressed. During the experience, we collect data and score the user on their retention of the training and how they did recognizing safety issues. Afterward, we generate a report with the data, and we can fine-tune safety training and highlight areas of concern. The whole application is much more involved and allows for a more efficient training and safer environment in the real world, saving lives and preventing injuries. From a business standpoint, we will also be saving time and money by expediting the training process for the thousands of workers while bringing more engagement and safety understanding. I wish I could share some other current projects we have going on around St. Louis; Follow our social media and website to see over the next few months what comes about!

Ok super. Thank you for all that. Let’s now shift to the main focus of our interview. The VR, AR and MR industries seem so exciting right now. What are the 3 things in particular that most excite you about the industry? Can you explain or give an example?

It is hard to limit to only three, but I will try my best!

  1. People are starting to understand and see the potential that these technologies bring to the table of all industries, and it’s generating a lot of great use cases of how XR technologies can be used across the board. So the fact in and of itself that the XR industry is growing and bringing huge benefits that no other technology allows is extremely exciting.
  2. One thing that we are excited about at ARS is that we have figured out how to stream high-fidelity experiences with in-depth interactions from cloud computing or a dedicated rack straight to VR, AR, and MR devices! We are currently using this for our Looking Glass platform for community developers and architects to realistically visualize their unbuilt spaces and designs from any device. It not only visualizes the spaces accurately and realistically, but it has built-in tracking of redlines, communications, CDs, and specifications and allows the user to see real-time installations of the options for materials, lighting, furniture, etc., on the fly as they walk through. Our VR streaming now gives the users scale and sight lines without having to download the experience and at a visual quality, the device itself could never obtain. VERY EXCITING. Looking Glass and its cutting-edge abilities have been greatly helped by Arch Grants! ARS won an Arch Grant in last year’s cohort for Looking Glass, and the networking, funding, and community has been a much-appreciated help in where Looking Glass is and where it’s going!
  3. Of course, the new hardware coming out for immersion and wearables are exciting. Many companies are creating great headsets and accompanying hardware to engage other senses. ARS is managing a XR research lab with TREX downtown St. Louis that will house many of the latest and greatest XR hardware so we can really explore and help others explore the true potential of the XR technologies for their industries. Of course, other technologies and growth like NFTs, metaverse, digital twins, IoT, ai, ml, cv, etc., are all very exciting when used properly with XR, and we have been having a lot of fun including those in our current projects and research efforts.

What are the 3 things that concern you about the VR, AR and MR industries? Can you explain? What can be done to address those concerns?

For this question, Mauricio and I put our heads together. Here is what we think.

  1. VR, in particular, CAN lead to isolation and can be used to separate a user from the real world. The concern is that good and useful technologies can be used to try to live life outside of the real world and not used to enhance the lives we have. Consider social media and the studies of how they affect users in negative ways- loneliness, comparison to others, unrealistic depiction of their lives, bullying, etc. Then think about all of those things in a more immersive manner of absorbing them… Furthermore, some users can get so involved in VR that they care more about it than the real world (WOW and Second Life are good examples). In my opinion, technology is a great tool that can bring tons of benefits to this life and world, but it’s no replacement for the life we have, and I would not want to see anyone get lost (literally) in an alternate reality. I think developing the technology side by side with the real world and bringing useful technology that promotes connection to others while still encouraging real-world experiences will help this issue. Also, large companies will play a huge role in what the XR experiences can do and look like, so there is a huge responsibility on our side to develop better practices that are not to consume and addict to platforms. A cheesy but applicable analogy is the ending of Ready Player One (spoiler alert), where the Oasis is limited to a few days a week to force real-world living.
  2. There are a lot of unrealistic expectations with the current technologies available due to demos that have been post-processed and are not actual experiences but instead good cinematography. The problem is that there are great use cases with current technologies, and we need to build the foundation with what we have to make them better and more immersive in the future, but when clients and investors come expecting some of the movies they have seen (Iron Man for example), they want holograms and perfect simulations. The solution is good education and exposure to the current technologies and continues R&D on our side to showcase what is possible and what we can work up to in the future.
  3. Big companies are basing technological advances on what benefits them and their interests OVER solutions that improve the quality-of-life advances. The problem is that big companies spend enormous amounts of research dollars to push certain parts of XR technologies (which is great), but they also have influence over how that is used, and it’s often to drive their revenue dollars and ambitions, which has little to no concern for people and what’s in their best interest. As Mauricio put it, big companies aren’t investing billions of dollars to make our lives better… To address these concerns, other companies and people need to develop alternative solutions that improve quality of life and have the end-user in mind.

I think the entertainment aspects of VR, AR, and MR are apparent. Can you share with our readers how these industries can help us at work?

Actually, ARS is heavily involved in the business enterprise solutions that XR tech brings over the entertainment side of XR. However, we do use aspects of “entertainment” in our applications to drive the engagement and repeat use of our applications. We use the term gamification at times, where the goal is to turn a learning experience or tedious task into an interesting and engaging event. It has to be done properly, but through our experience of what works and does not work, we have been able to moderate how far we take the “gamification” process to involve a person with rewards or reactions to the VR experience based on how well the task is completed. An example of this would be a project we are working on for a Florida company that trains in Cell Tower installations. We have created a “world” that allows a user to learn how to operate equipment, install cell tower equipment, and run a company that is rewarded with different points and monetary systems in-game as well as unlocks new opportunities for their user and company. The games and entertainment industries are extremely helpful in funding the development of new XR technologies and bringing joy to people along the way!

Are there other ways that VR, AR and MR can improve our lives? Can you explain?

We have not begun to develop many of the ways that XR (extended realities- VR, AR, and MR) can improve our day-to-day lives. Most experiences are still one-off experiences for gaming or work-related tasks, but eventually, XR hardware, software, and use cases will be just as commonly used and referred to as traditional work machines like computers, cell phones, and programs. As different wearables and sustainable methods of running programs and experiences come out, the more use people will receive from them. Probably the most talked about in terms of hardware is the Apple MR Glasses that could lead consumer adoption and allow users to interact with the augmented and real-world more seamlessly (think facetime calls with your friend/family walking beside you or browsing amazon and dragging and dropping the item in your house to see how it looks and fits). COUNTLESS day-to-day tasks will move to MR and allow for more efficient and beneficial experiences to users. That is more of a lifestyle improvement, but from other standpoints like sustainability, society/business/culture, and world planning, any number of ideas and imagination can improve lives through XR- healthcare industry is an obvious life improvement that XR can solve a number of current challenges (surgery planning and training). This is such a loaded question; maybe we need to write a book :).

What are the “myths” that you would like to dispel about working in your industry? Can you explain what you mean?

There are a few that come to mind, but being in the middle of the great recession, probably one of the most important myths to bust would be that it’s too hard to learn how to develop for XR applications. I would encourage anyone who has interest in XR to just try to get started in creating something simple. I think companies such as ARS and enthusiasts in the industry should also evangelize in primary and secondary schools more. The XR research and development lab will be used in St. Louis to showcase the possibilities to students and offer programs for learning and certification.

Some other quick myths to bust are that XR technologies are gimmicky, super expensive in development and hardware, and only used as a cool factor. I will gladly meet with any company in any industry to hear out your pain points and brainstorm with you real solutions that XR can bring to solve those challenges and offer ROI. We have worked with many companies to bring just this to their product, service, or workflow. I have yet to find an industry that cannot benefit.

What are your “5 Things You Need To Create A Highly Successful Career In The VR, AR or MR Industries?”

  1. You need to study yourself and understand what your role and expertise would be. It does NOT have to be programming strengths (mine wasn’t). Instead, I found that I was really good at brainstorming real solutions that use XR technology to solve issues. I enjoy keeping up with the latest technology and their limitations and then creating ways to use those for unique and creative experiences. So learn about yourself and what you enjoy doing and then ask someone or review positions in XR industry companies and figure out where you fit in. Development, creative, storytelling, planning, QA testing, management, etc. Only get into the industry and career that you love and find interest in. There is no money or fad or industry worth getting into if they themselves are the goal. Find something that you enjoy and run with it.
  2. Get into VR and experience AR content! It amazes me how many people have yet to test out some VR game or application or who has not yet tried an augmented reality app on their phone. The second that you get into XR and see the possibilities, it will spark how it can be used in what you are familiar with (industry, tasks, day-to-day things you do). The first time I used stereoscopic rendering for architecture (shows very little depth on a screen), it opened my eyes to understanding architecture dimensions and sight lines from an image.
  3. Ask questions and connect with people in the industry. One of the most challenging things for Mauricio and me was that no one was around (or at least easy to find) that was exploring these technologies, especially for business and enterprise! Now, this technology is being taught in universities, and there are clubs and meetups, so get as involved as possible and be around people that are also passionate about the tech and industry. I am always available to chat about this!
  4. Just take the step to get started in some fashion. Many people want to make career changes or want to be a certain thing “when they grow up,” but oftentimes, it seems out of reach, and people don’t make moves towards getting there. I would encourage you just to take whatever the next step is (no matter how small) and just get started in some fashion. It may lead to something sooner than you know!
  5. Stay up to date with the technology. It is CONSTANTLY changing. Every day there is new hardware, software, accompanying technology improvements (ML, CV, AI, IOT, etc.). Research often and subscribe to people in the know and then get creative with use cases or develop cool demos, depending on point 1.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

At ARS, we have focused on trying to bring positive change from the use of XR and accompanying technologies. That manifests in lots of ways, from VR training that helps save lives (dangerous jobs, healthcare, police, and armed forces) to AR that helps bring people joy and ease of use to products and services (fashion, sales/design, geospatial). An active project we are currently working to get funded that I believe would make a tremendous positive impact on society, sustainability, and efficient future city planning is a Digital Twin and management platform to St. Louis (ability to bring to other cities as well). Put simply, Digital Twins are virtual representations of real places that are accurate and have the ability to show real-time analytics or tie the virtual and physical places together in some way. ARS, TREX, Arch Grants, Beyond Housing, and others are invested in bringing this technology to St. Louis for the purpose of resilience and sustainability. The goal would be to allow municipalities to have a full city view of current efforts around them to plan as a whole instead of separately, as well as giving communities the opportunity to voice challenges around the city (such as downed trees, traffic, crime, food deserts, etc.). As the different municipalities see efforts going on nearby, they can partner up to save resources, time, and money and make the biggest impact and changes for the most good. There are also tons of simulations that can be run on a digital twin to best plan for natural disasters, environmental impact of new developments, green canopy, city services locations and work requests, as-builts visualized to match city documents, etc. I believe that XR, along with AI, ML, CV, IoT, Digital Twin, and other technologies, can bring great impact for the whole society and bring positive change for the present and, even more so, the future people of the city.

We are very blessed that very prominent leaders read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would like to have a private breakfast or lunch, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them 🙂

The long-shot answer is Elon Musk. Probably a lot of people’s answer to this question; however, his boldness to not only start projects but form companies around some of the most challenging issues for our time is impressive and fun to follow. It would be great to discuss the technologies surrounding Tesla, SpaceX, Neuralink, and the boring co (I guess possibly Twitter, too…). When he gets to the heart of these companies, though, it’s all about the joy in life that people should have and the sustainability of the world, two topics I love to talk about.

A close second is Francis Chan, which is probably the complete opposite to the first answer. There is not a more clear and inspirational speaker/teacher around today that I can think of. I would love to discuss some of his books and messages and encourage each other.

Thank you so much for these excellent stories and insights. We wish you continued success on your great work!


Makers of The Metaverse: Brad Martin Of Another Reality Studio On The Future Of The VR, AR & Mixed… was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

Making Something From Nothing: Rushabh Shah Of Glish On How To Go From Idea To Launch

An Interview With Fotis Georgiadis

Be aware of what you spend for marketing and do your double/triple due diligence to evaluate if the money is worth it.

As a part of our series called “Making Something From Nothing”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Rushabh Shah.

He started his career as an engineer and is currently managing strategic and tactical initiatives in the field of information technology. However, he pivoted his focus during the pandemic, creating Glish with his family. He wanted to create a beverage that his whole family could enjoy, young and old. He also was concerned with making his brand truly healthy for the consumer and incorporating ingredients that would be nourishing.

Rushabh started his career as an engineer and is currently managing strategic and tactical initiatives in the field of information technology. He pivoted his focus during the pandemic, creating Glish with his family. He wanted to create a beverage that his whole family could enjoy, young and old. He also was concerned with making his brand truly healthy for the consumer, and incorporating ingredients that would be nourishing.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dive in, our readers would love to learn a bit more about you. Can you tell us a bit about your “childhood backstory”?

I am a sports lover and a movie and music buff, I was also good at school and very driven. Consequently, like a typical Indian brown boy, I decided to pursue a bachelor’s in engineering and eventually graduate studies here in the U.S. at Rochester Institute of Technology, in Rochester NY. In addition, I am an avid foodie, always wanting to try out new things

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

The famous quote of Tony Robbins: “Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you react.”

I relate to this as an immigrant, when I entered the U.S. as a student there were a lot of uncertainties (visa, job, stability etc.) over the past decade that I had experienced on a personal and professional level. There was a specific situation when I was working at a startup, I was deliberately being pushed to a corner and became the single point of failure for customer delivery. Instead of choosing self-pity, I chose to look at it as a challenge. I not only ensured a successful customer delivery program but also provided additional onboarding help. The customer was so happy that they let the CEO know about my work, which opened a way for me to showcase my work and come out with flying colors.

Is there a particular book, podcast, or film that made a significant impact on you? Can you share a story or explain why it resonated with you so much?

Steve Jobs’s Biography by Walter Isaacson had a significant impact on me personally. The book states the importance of believing in yourself and your gut instinct. I was inspired to get out of my comfort zone and do the unusual. Starting a new business while being an engineer and a manager, was difficult but something that I wanted to do. Like Jobs, I had a solid vision and gut instinct to create products that could impact the entire world, despite knowing little about the field I was pursuing.

Ok super. Let’s now shift to the main part of our discussion. There is no shortage of good ideas out there. Many people have good ideas all the time. But people seem to struggle in taking a good idea and translating it into an actual business. Can you share a few ideas from your experience about how to overcome this challenge?

This is a fantastic question, and yes, transitioning an idea into a commercial business is the most challenging thing an individual can face. However, based on my experience I can share some ideas on how to overcome this challenge

  • Don’t be afraid to ask for help.
  • Set a goal.
  • Break up the goal into small tasks so you can check them off easier and keep track of all your progress.
  • Do not set multiple goals, focus on each step as they come.
  • Be patient but aggressive when putting your brand and yourself out there.

Often when people think of a new idea, they dismiss it saying someone else must have thought of it before. How would you recommend that someone go about researching whether or not their idea has already been created?

One should never presume that someone must have done it before. There is a saying, “you won’t learn how to swim unless you get inside the water” the same concept applies here. One should directly search their idea if it has been implemented before or not. There can be only 2 outcomes: if there is a similar idea already implemented, research it in more detail, identify the gaps and fill the gaps and see how you can better it. This forms your pathway to commercialization. Or option two, the idea doesn’t already exist and now you can make the path from conceptualization to commercialization relatively easy.

For the benefit of our readers, can you outline the steps one has to go through from when they think of the idea until it finally lands in a customer’s hands? In particular, we’d love to hear about how to file a patent, how to source a good manufacturer, and how to find a retailer to distribute it.

Being an entrepreneur, one must be outgoing and social above and beyond their core competency. Sourcing a good manufacturer and finding a good retailer can be done in multiple ways but the few things that personally helped me are the following.

  • Scour the internet.
  • Going to my local stores and networking with store managers and asking them about retailers and overall functioning.
  • Going to local quick-serve restaurants and speaking/networking with restaurant managers.

What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me When I First Started Leading My Company” and why?

  • Be aware of what you spend for marketing and do your double/triple due diligence to evaluate if the money is worth it.
  • Hire an accountant in advance so you don’t have to worry about taxes, especially filing sales tax if you are in the CPG business.
  • Focus on core competencies and don’t be afraid to take calculated risks based on data.
  • Leverage consultants in areas that you fall short of by using tools like Fiverr or Upwork.
  • Focus on the mission of your company, and make sure you align everything you do with it.

Let’s imagine that a reader reading this interview has an idea for a product that they would like to invent. What are the first few steps that you would recommend that they take?

  • Develop a minimum viable product.
  • Register an LLC/Inc and get an EIN.
  • Because everything is digital, get your domain and all your social media handles.

There are many invention development consultants. Would you recommend that a person with a new idea hire such a consultant, or should they try to strike out on their own?

In my humble opinion, I wouldn’t recommend that. If you are personally not connected, or invested in your product you won’t be able to do justice to it holistically.

What are your thoughts about bootstrapping vs looking for venture capital? What is the best way to decide if you should do either one?

This is situationally specific. There is no cookie-cutter method. Both are equally good ways to kickstart your business. They both have their pros and cons.

Ok. We are nearly done. Here are our final questions. How have you used your success to make the world a better place?

  • We are just getting started. Glish’s mission is to bring people/families together to cherish life via our refreshing sparkling beverages that are fun and functional.
  • In addition, we are trying to ensure that people are able to enjoy a lifestyle that is truly guilt free but at the same time is fun as well.

You are an inspiration to a great many people. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger.

Do not ignore your instinct. Try to follow it and see the magic unfold. This is because the guidance that your instinct gives you is 100% pure, unbiased, and true to yourself. Consequently, the success probability increases multifold.

We are very blessed that some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US, with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them.

Cavu Ventures — They build brands for a healthier world and exist to democratize healthy living for all humans.

Thank you for these fantastic insights. We greatly appreciate the time you spent on this.


Making Something From Nothing: Rushabh Shah Of Glish On How To Go From Idea To Launch was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

The Future Is Now: Facundo Diaz Of TravelX On How Their Technological Innovation Will Shake Up The…

The Future Is Now: Facundo Diaz Of TravelX On How Their Technological Innovation Will Shake Up The Tech Scene

An Interview With Fotis Georgiadis

Follow your passion and your instincts. It will give you the energy and courage you need to face the challenges and hopefully achieve your goals.

As a part of our series about cutting edge technological breakthroughs, I had the pleasure of interviewing Facundo Diaz.

Facundo Diaz is Chief Blockchain Officer at TravelX, the company building the travel industry’s first blockchain-based distribution protocol. Diaz is a Former Deutsche Bank Investment Banker and Accenture Director (15+ years as a tech consultant for Global 500 companies). “Silicon Valley” entrepreneur (VR / Blockchain) with 2 successful exits. He’s also the Founder of Reality Code, a pioneer company in the use of NFTs for digital assets’ protection and management. He was identified as “one of the 5 global minds that are revolutionizing the audio tech” (Mashable 2016) and one of the #100 US most innovative Startup CEOs in 2015 by Inc.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?

It was basically a summary of coincidences, events and personal discoveries.

I developed my career in a very traditional way — school, university, Master’s — then an executive role at a big consulting firm. But my career completely changed direction while I was leading a project in Puerto Rico for that firm.

After many years without it, I was constantly enjoying one of my passions as a kid: Surfing. It was impossible not to try it again while living around the amazing beaches in Puerto Rico. It was then I decided, after meditating at my board waiting for waves, that I wasn’t happy nor doing my passion in life.

With a wife and two kids, I decided to take the risk — resign from my well-paid corporate role and start my own venture. With all my savings, I started a Surfboard factory in my native country Argentina.

I became an entrepreneur at that moment, but I also learned how painful it is to fail, as the board factory didn’t work out. After this experience, I learned how important and rewarding it is to do what you love and follow your dreams.

I was broken, but full of energy. Being a tech guy, curious and music lover, I decided to develop a platform to film and distribute music concerts in VR, a technology that was starting to gain momentum at that time.

This helped me dive into the early blockchain community focused on NFTs in 2017.

Seeing the potential of blockchain as a technology, besides cryptocurrencies or speculative purposes, I started to get involved in projects that use blockchain as a technology to solve real-world problems.

Through this, I reconnected with my good friend Juan Pablo Lafosse, a travel industry entrepreneur and veteran. We saw the opportunity to revolutionize the way the travel industry distributes inventory by taking advantage of blockchain technology and NTFs.

And then, we launched TravelX.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?

Although I have many fond memories of my career, I think the most exciting moment was auctioning off our first NFTicket for the first-ever NFT flight. We hosted a launch party during Blockchain Week at the Eiffel Tower in Paris, France.

The NFTicket sold for more than $1 million. It was the most exhilarating and proud moment in my career to date. It was a validation of our company’s vision and that the travel industry is ready to take the next big step for the industry in the last 30 years with us.

Can you tell us about the cutting edge technological breakthroughs that you are working on? How do you think that will help people?

Web3 will revolutionize the way many industries run their business, creating a more transparent, efficient, decentralized and collaborative economy.

We are creating a Web3 blockchain-based infrastructure that lets airlines (or other travel players like hotels or cruises) tokenize in NFTs their inventory (tickets, staterooms) to distribute it more efficiently.

We are creating the infrastructure that allows the travel industry to jump into Web3 and take advantage of its core concepts like decentralization, community consensus and participation, transparency and frictionless technology, that will enable a better travel experience.

TravelX’s blockchain infrastructure could bring airlines new revenue streams, including earning residual profits each time an NFTicket is sold on the secondary market. These NFTickets will also save the airlines money by simplifying the purchasing and post-sales ticket management process.

Travelers can easily resell or transfer tickets without friction or unnecessary intermediaries. We are bringing more freedom, transparency and opportunity to the ticket buyers because of how they can purchase, resell, auction or trade those tickets wallet to wallet

We are creating a secondary market for one of the biggest industries in the world, but we don’t aspire to create a marketplace as an end goal. We are focused on building the proverbial plumbing — an infrastructure that current and hopefully new players can take advantage of to run their businesses or create new ones.

We are aligning traveler’s and travel industry players’ interests, taking out friction and allowing for new and better solutions to happen.

Keeping “Black Mirror” in mind, can you see any potential drawbacks about this technology that people should think more deeply about?

Blockchain, as a technology, has evolved drastically during the last few years, but there are still a few challenges we face. Its cost (or gas fees) and the fact that it consumes a lot of energy and computational power which isn’t sustainable, are great challenges.

We thought that those issues could present drawbacks to our project, that’s why we decided to use Algorand, a specific blockchain that has solved those challenges. As the world’s first pure proof-of-stake blockchain, the Algorand network was designed from the ground up to minimally impact the environment. Because its consensus is not based on energy-intensive proof-of-work and requires minimal computational power or electricity and at the same time the cost of the network to operate is minimal.

Was there a “tipping point” that led you to this breakthrough? Can you tell us that story?

I was traveling in a fundraising roadshow for the NFT company I founded before TravelX. That was before the NFTs’ boom, so I spent most of the time with the potential investors explaining to them the benefits of blockchain as a technology and NFTs as immutable and transparent digital certificates.

During that roadshow visiting investors in San Francisco, LA, Europe and Latin America I had to change and reschedule my flight many times.

I remember the exact moment when I was dealing with a cancellation (nothing easy) when I thought, “It would be so much easier if people could manage their flight tickets as they manage their bitcoins.” They are just in your wallet, and you can decide what to do whenever you want. And flight tickets are not fungible, each flight ticket is a unique seat on a plane. It was a no-brainer, the natural evolution of the eTicket should be the NFTicket, so let’s make that happen!

What do you need to lead this technology to widespread adoption?

The main challenge that stands in our way from widespread adoption is educating the travel and airline industries, a very legacy industry, on the benefits that blockchain technology can bring.

Fortunately, they clearly understand it and are beginning to embrace it, which is great for us.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

The truth is that I’m where I’m because of all the people that surrounded me right now and during all my career in the past.

Thinking about one moment or advice that changed my life, one, in particular, is coming to mind.

I remember a boss of mine when I was working in a corporation. With his best intentions, when I was trying to bring new ideas for a project we were working on, he said, “Hey man, we are losing time and your ideas will represent an extra effort. Everything is already invented, and we don’t need to innovate or create new ways of doing what we have to do.”

As you can imagine, it wasn’t the most motivational advice, and I felt very frustrated.

But I thank that advice because it shocked me and made me understand that I wasn’t in the right place.

I’m sure that is not happening anymore and right now every company is looking for and promoting innovation and are open to new ideas. Fortunately, today, people don’t need to have their own projects to develop their ideas and vision, and being an intrapreneur can be just as exciting as being an entrepreneur.

Sometimes advice doesn’t come in the way we expected, but I learned that the important thing is maybe not what they say, but what triggers you.

What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started” and why.

  1. Dream big.
  2. Everything will happen. Good and bad things, so try to enjoy as much as you can the good and do not skip the bad ones but go deep into it and learn as much as you can.
  3. Do not change who you are or how you act based on how other people treat you. Integrity, especially during hard times will always give you the north to make the right choices and decisions and others won’t be able to force you to go against your values and principles, something very important along a professional path.
  4. It is never too late. I’m 46 and just starting a new startup.
  5. Follow your passion and your instincts. It will give you the energy and courage you need to face the challenges and hopefully achieve your goals.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

I really believe that we are in a transitional moment for the world and humankind. We are more digitally connected than ever before, but at the same time super-disconnected at a personal level.

The actual internet model is broken and monopolized by less than 10 companies that manage social media networks and rule the way we connect and how information flows.

Blockchain and Web3 have arrived to help us evolve in the way we digitally connect, share, involve, collaborate and participate in what we do, use or create.

We saw an opportunity to take advantage of these concepts and create a better travel industry. We are already seeing an impact in the financial industry, but just imagine the impact it could have on industries like renewable energies, genetic engineering or health care.

If I should inspire a moment or a vision, it will be based on those key concepts: collaboration, decentralization, consensus, and distributed ownership based on the value that all the actors could bring to the common purpose, besides only their personal interest.

The era of monopolistic companies is ending. We can create and pursue technological impacts and solutions based on common purposes, created and evolved by communities with space for all.

It is the moment to take action, learn, share, challenge and understand how to take advantage of the technological advances and opportunities to create a better future by, and for all.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

Not sure if it is a Life Lesson Quote, but I love and always apply to my life the Latin phrase: Carpe Diem, which means “pluck the day,” and was used by the Roman poet Horace to express the idea that we should enjoy life while we can.

We only have the chance to live once, and the best thing we can do is to live and connect with others. I had many many failures and some successes in my life, but after all of them, I learned that the most important thing is always the path and what you learn, experience and who you surround yourself with doing the journey.

Some very well known VCs read this column. If you had 60 seconds to make a pitch to a VC, what would you say? He or she might just see this if we tag them 🙂

A better travel industry is possible. Join us to make that happen.

How can our readers follow you on social media?

TravelX

Website: www.travelx.io

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/travelx_community/

Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/company/travelxchange/mycompany/

Twitter: https://mobile.twitter.com/travelx__

Facundo Diaz

Twitter: https://twitter.com/facumartindiaz

Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/facundomartindiaz/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/facumartindiaz/

Thank you so much for joining us. This was very inspirational.


The Future Is Now: Facundo Diaz Of TravelX On How Their Technological Innovation Will Shake Up The… was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

Sheryl Green On The 5 Things You Need To Be A Highly Effective Public Speaker

An Interview With Fotis Georgiadis

Use properly-structured stories to emotionally connect with your audience and make your points memorable.

At some point in our lives, many of us will have to give a talk to a large group of people. What does it take to be a highly effective public speaker? How can you improve your public speaking skills? How can you overcome a fear of speaking in public? What does it take to give a very interesting and engaging public talk? In this interview series called “5 Things You Need To Be A Highly Effective Public Speaker” we are talking to successful and effective public speakers to share insights and stories from their experience. As a part of this series, we had the pleasure of interviewing Sheryl Green.

Sheryl Green is a New York native living and thawing in Las Vegas since 2008. After a devastating divorce, Sheryl discovered the power of storytelling and has brought her love of the craft to fiction, non-fiction, and content writing for businesses.

Sheryl holds a Master’s Degree in Psychology and has worked in Customer Service, Public Relations, Education, and the Non-Profit world. A passionate animal advocate, she served as the Director of Communications and Cuddling for Hearts Alive Village animal rescue.

She is the author of “Surviving to Thriving: How to Overcome Setbacks and Rock Your Life,” “Once Upon a Bottom Line: Harnessing the Power of Storytelling in Sales,” “Book Writing for Busy People,” and “Do Good to Do Better: The Small Business Guide to Growing Your Business by Helping Nonprofits.”

Sheryl brings a unique blend of experience and insight to her audiences. A high content speaker who is motivational in style, she will entertain your audience with humor and heart.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Our readers would love to get to know you a bit better. Can you tell us the story of how you grew up?

I grew up on Long Island, New York. My parents divorced when I was 4-years-old and my mom and I went to live with my grandparents. I spent weekends with my dad and my stepmom until they moved out of state when I was a teenager. Then, I’d spend some holidays and summers with them.

I’m an only child, so I grew up kind of fast. I was frequently called “precocious” and excelled in school (except for history… man, was I bad in history). I always loved to read and write, but I was deathly afraid of speaking in front of people. As I got older, I started wearing all black and considered myself a “goth.” I was really into music and I was obsessed with serial killers.

I graduated high school and then went to a local college to study Psychology and Anthropology. By the time I finished, I decided that I wanted to be an FBI Profiler and catch serial killers, so I got my Masters in Forensic Psychology. I’ve never worked in that field, but the degree has come in handy while writing mystery novels.

Can you share a story with us about what brought you to this specific career path?

As I mentioned, I was deathly afraid of public speaking. If you’d have told me 15 years ago that I’d be doing it for a living, I would’ve laughed in your face.

I moved out to Vegas because of a really traumatic divorce. My ex-husband did a very, very bad thing and I left him to start a new life. I began to share what I’d been through and realized that it was helpful for others going through similar circumstances. About that time, I joined a writer’s group here in Vegas and agreed to be on the board as the Critique Group Organizer. When the president told me that I’d have to stand up and address the attendees at every meeting, I pretty much had a heart attack. He recommended Toastmasters and it gave me the confidence I was missing.

The first meeting I spoke at, was the clincher. I had some humor in my presentation and the entire room was laughing with me. It was like a drug! I knew that my place was on stage.

Can you tell us the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?

I spoke at a personal development conference and shared the story of my marriage, my hasty exit, and the steps I took to rebuild my life. At the end of the event, an attendee came over to share. He had committed a similar crime as my ex-husband and never realized the impact it had on his own ex-wife. He actually called her on the break to apologize for what he’d done.

I never met that woman, but I know I changed two lives that day.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

I was chosen to give a TEDx Preview talk about Why Animal Rescue is Better Than Antidepressants. Despite the fact that I practiced for weeks, there was one line (at the very beginning of my speech) that I couldn’t get out correctly. When the day finally came, I got up on stage, delivered my first line, and then froze at the “problem sentence.” It took almost a minute to get back on track and regain my composure.

When I finally finished my speech, the sound guy met me in the hallway. “You did an amazing job!” he said.

I responded with a string of obscenities about how I did not do a good job.

That’s when he pointed to my lav mic… which was still hot.

The lesson? Always assume your mic is on and be careful what comes out of your mouth!

I also learned that if a line isn’t working, stop trying to force it and just change it.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

It’s hard to pick just one! I have had so many mentors along the way and so many individuals that have supported me and kicked my butt when I needed it.

However, I will give a shoutout to Darren LaCroix. He’s a World Champion of Public Speaking, a CSP through the National Speaker’s Association (NSA), a mentor, and a friend. As a brand-new speaker, he got to know me and saw my potential. He invited me to work at his events and gave me the opportunity to learn, connect with successful speakers, and become a better speaker myself.

Cut to a few years later when he saw me present to our local NSA chapter and gave me one of the best compliments you can give a speaker, “You made me cry, made me think, and inspired me to make changes to some of my stories.”

He’s helped me become a better presenter, and I’ll always be grateful.

You have been blessed with great success in a career path that can be challenging and intimidating. Do you have any words of advice for others who may want to embark on this career path, but seem daunted by the prospect of failure?

What is your WHY? If you’re just going into this business to make money, there are much easier ways to do that. You need to have a passion for helping people and affecting change. That’s what’s going to keep you going and help you attain the level of success you’re looking for.

What drives you to get up everyday and give your talks? What is the main empowering message that you aim to share with the world?

Sharing our stories is a gift we give the world. When you are open and vulnerable, you give everyone around you the freedom and the permission to be vulnerable as well. Stories empower us to communicate better, share our lives, and operate in a space of compassion… something our world could use a lot more of.

You have such impressive work. What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now? Where do you see yourself heading from here?

I’m queuing up to do a series of programs that will teach salespeople, fundraisers, speakers, etc. how to tell better stories in their businesses and their lives. I’m also working on my next book about the life lessons we can learn from plants (I will neither confirm nor deny that I have 100+ houseplants).

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

When I was at the lowest point of my depression, my stepmom told me to “Go do something for someone else.” It was the kick in the pants I needed to leave my pity party, find purpose, and make a difference in the world. If we stop focusing on our own problems and start focusing on what we can do for others, our problems magically get better.

Ok, thank you for all that. Here is the main question of our interview. What are your “5 Things You Need To Be A Highly Effective Public Speaker?” Please share a story or example for each.

1 . Knowledge of your audience so you can tailor your content to who will be in the room.

When you ask someone who their audience is, you’ll often hear something like, “oh, everyone!” This is a dangerous pit to fall into. Not everyone needs to hear the same message, and among those who do, not every audience needs to hear it the same way. When you know who is in your room and have an idea of their backgrounds, goals, challenges, etc. you can tailor your message, your content, your examples, and your call to action, to them. If you have the opportunity to speak to a few audience members before the day of the event, do it! You’ll gain a ton of “insider” knowledge and be able to speak to the audience in a way that shows them you get them and their struggles.

2. A little bit of anxiety. If you don’t feel a few butterflies, you’re likely not invested in giving your audience your all.

I can’t count how many times I’ve stepped on stage with butterflies doing parkour in my stomach. However, I do know it’s “every” time. In fact, there are some days that I’m walking up to the stage screaming inside my own head, “Why do you keep doing this to yourself!?! Go home!” Thankfully, the moment I get on stage and say the first few words, I can look into the audience and realize that my program is about them, not about me. I can take my energy and focus off of my fear of looking foolish and shift it over to impacting their lives.

3. Properly-structured stories to emotionally connect with your audience and make your points memorable.

A lot of people consider themselves “storytellers” but few actually realize the structure that goes into crafting a story. Our brains are wired for story and in order to effectively tap into the power of stories, you need to understand (and follow) the rules. When you structure properly, you take the audience on a journey and evoke a strong neurological response. The neurotransmitters released (Cortisol, Oxytocin, Dopamine) create the emotions necessary to make your stories relatable, sticky, and life-changing.

I just saw the Top Gun remake in the theater and that story took me through a roller coaster of emotions and then delivered me safely to a good place. (Don’t worry, I won’t spoil it). This is the experience you want to create for your audience.

4. Remember that the speech is about what the audience needs to hear, not what you want to say.

It’s fun to talk. It’s fun to tell stories. It’s fun to be the center of attention (for some). But, when you deliver a speech or a program, it’s not about you and what you want to share. It’s about what your audience needs to hear. Whenever I deliver my storytelling programs, I drive home that you must decide on the point you want to make first, and then select a story that backs it up. This ensures that you are presenting for your audience, not for your own ego.

5. A book or other materials that 1) position you as an expert in the field, and 2) Provide a “next step” for your audience members.

You’ve probably heard the old expression: “He wrote the book on it!” It’s constantly used to establish someone as an expert on a specific topic. Professional speakers aren’t just speakers. They are experts in their fields and they deliver their expertise through a number of avenues. Writing a book is the best way to communicate, “I know what I’m talking about and I can help you with your problem.”

A few years ago, I reached out to the NAB (National Association of Broadcasters) conference about speaking. The meeting planner was hesitant to have me speak about storytelling since I’d never worked in radio or television. Then, I shared my book “Once Upon a Bottom Line: Harnessing the Power of Storytelling in Sales.”

The meeting planner changed her tune. “Oh, well since you wrote a book on the subject, we could definitely use you.”

A book also provides a way for people to follow up with you and get more help in the future (while you get more business).

If you need help writing a book, I wrote one called “Book Writing for Busy People” which will take you through the entire process.

As you know, many people are terrified of speaking in public. Can you give some of your advice about how to overcome this fear?

Practice. I know it sounds trite, but the only way to get over your fear is to face it. Join an organization like Toastmasters and take advantage of every opportunity to stand up and speak. You won’t die. You probably won’t even pee yourself. But if you do, it’s a safe place and you won’t be the first or the last person to do so.

You are a person of huge influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be?

I would invite every single person to do something for someone else. Lend your time, talents, treasures, and voice to a cause or a nonprofit. Help others. Focus on something outside of yourself and ask yourself each day, “How can I make the world a better place?” If everyone did something we could solve this world’s problems.

And please, adopt don’t shop… and spay and neuter your pets. There are plenty of wonderful animals waiting for a loving home. Go save a life.

Is there a person in the world whom you would love to have lunch with, and why? Maybe we can tag them and see what happens!

I’d love to meet John Paul Dejoria, the co-founder of Paul Mitchell. His work as an entrepreneur and philanthropist is inspiring and I’m grateful for everything he has done for animals and the environment.

Are you on social media? How can our readers follow you online?

https://www.linkedin.com/in/sherylgreen/

https://www.facebook.com/SherylGreenSpeaks

https://www.instagram.com/sherylgreenspeaks/

This was so informative, thank you so much! We wish you continued success!


Sheryl Green On The 5 Things You Need To Be A Highly Effective Public Speaker was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

Aaron Gray Of Practice Makes Perfect Music Studio On Why Diversity Is Good For Business

An Interview With Fotis Georgiadis

Diverse businesses have a more diverse customer base. As a Person of Color who grew up in a predominantly white area and unwelcoming area, I know how much representation really does matter. Once consumers see people that look like themselves in your company, then they’ll be more likely to choose your product over someone else’s.

As a part of our series about “How Diversity Can Increase a Company’s Bottom Line”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Aaron Gray.

Aaron is the co-owner and founder of Practice Makes Perfect Music Studio, A Black, female and LGBTQIA+ owned music school. In addition to running the studio Aaron also serves as a private piano, voice, and organ teacher. Aaron started Practice Makes Perfect in March of 2020 with co-owner Sam Specht-Burns. He lives in Greensburg Pennsylvania with his wife Julia, and their daughter Cadence.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dive into the main part of our interview, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit more. Can you share a bit of your “backstory” with us?

I started taking piano lessons from my grandmother, Frances, when I was 7 years old. We always had a special bond I was born on her birthday, and we shared of love of music, specifically piano. She continued to pay for my piano lessons until the day she passed away around my 18th birthday.

I continued to get a degree in piano performance and held several full and part time music director positions at local churches, while also trying to balance playing for musicals, gigging, and teaching private lessons. When the church jobs started conflicting with my other jobs, I realized I needed to have control of my own schedule. That’s when I reached out to my friend Sam Specht-Burns and we started Practice Makes Perfect as just the two of us teaching during the pandemic. We eventually gained a few students and asked a couple of our friends to hop on board. Fast forward a year and now we have 220 students in two physical locations, with virtual teachers across four states, and developed our own children’s music courses for infants and toddlers, and are well on the way to starting our Frances and Marian Foundation. I have a beautiful wife Julia, and we have a one year old daughter, Cadence.

Can you share the funniest or most interesting story that happened to you since you started your career? Can you tell us the lesson or take away you took out of that story?

So a few years ago, I was serving as the music director for a musical at a theater in Scottdale, PA. The music director would also serve as the pianist for the shows, and the shows were at 7pm with an early matinee on Sundays. Anyway, this Saturday performance of the show was at 7pm and the evening before I had made plans to go to the Casino in Pittsburgh, for a brunch around 11am. Upon leaving the casino and proceeding toward the city to go home to get ready for the show, we were greeted with stand still traffic about 2 minutes into our journey. Now we think, we’ll be here for maybe 45 minutes maximum. Turns out the traffic was built up due to an eight-car accident in the Squirrel Hill Tunnels, the ONLY way out on our route.

We ended up being stuck in traffic for 5 hours, my friends had to drive me to the show I arrived about 10 minutes late and was wearing jeans and a T-shirt instead of the traditional concert attire.

I learned three things that day, always have backup concert attire with you, always arrive early, and just stay home when you have events.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you tell us a story about how that was relevant in your own life?

“Always be over-prepared.” Just recently I had a gig where I had to bring my whole keyboard setup. I always try to bring two of everything because something inevitably goes wrong or missing at every event. This particular gig I had decided against bringing a second keyboard stand, as my car was already filled and I was excited about this new stand I had just bought. Once I started unloading my gear we discovered that the top bar of the stand had snapped off and there I was without a keyboard stand, two hours away from three extra ones laying around in the studio. Had I just packed that second stand I could have avoided the entire situation!

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are?

I have several and there is no way I would be where I am without any of these people. My wife, Julia Gray and my business partner, Sam Specht-Burns. They both do a ton of the heavy lifting at the studio and I literally would not be anywhere without both of them.

What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?

Practice Makes Perfect stands out in a number of ways, our biggest one is that we are completely devoted to being a safe, diverse studio. We are an LGBTQIA+, woman and Black owned business, the only music studio of its kind. We strive to keep a diverse staff, which in turn attracts a more diverse student base. We’re also able to offer lessons anywhere in the U.S. via our online lessons, and already have some teachers and students in other states.

Are you working on any new or exciting projects now? How do you think that might help people?

We are in the process of turning something we have called the Frances Fund Into a non-profit called the Frances and Marian Foundation. Frances being my grandmother, and Marian being Sam’s. We are starting this foundation to eliminate barriers to learning music by paying for lessons, covering costs for instrument purchase/rental, instrument repairs and other financial needs of our students and music students anywhere.

How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?

Well so far we have started the Frances Fund, which provides free and discounted lessons to students. We currently have 6 students taking lessons for free, we have provided two students with a keyboard, one with a violin and a several other instruments. We also fundraise for our community, we donated $600 for a family in our neighborhood over after they suffered a house fire. We are constantly fundraising for these students and our community. Our Frances and Marian Foundation will soon be up and running and help us bring more good into the world.

Ok. Thank you for that. Let’s now jump to the main part of our interview. This may be obvious to you, but it is not intuitive to many people. Can you articulate to our readers five ways that increased diversity can help a company’s bottom line.

  1. Diverse businesses have a more diverse customer base.

As a Person of Color who grew up in a predominantly white area and unwelcoming area, I know how much representation really does matter. Once consumers see people that look like themselves in your company, then they’ll be more likely to choose your product over someone else’s.

2. Having a diverse staff solves problems.

Sometimes you run into obstacles while running a business that you otherwise wouldn’t have thought to prepare for. A lot of these problems can be solved by having an effective, diverse, efficient staff. One problem a partner organization recently had was that they held an event in a mostly Spanish speaking area where they placed sign up sheets for their newsletter. They had a record number of sign ups but they were unable to read any of the email addresses because they were all in Spanish! This is a problem I’ve never thought about before and one my company is prepared for, as we have two teachers on staff who are fluent in Spanish, just because my company is committed diverse hiring.

3. Pride.

Employees who feel welcome, seen, and safe, will also be employees who take pride in their position. We empower our teachers to be themselves and promote diversity and inclusion and in turn they feel more empowered. Having employees who believe in your mission and the work you are all doing together makes running the business significantly easier.

4. New Perspectives.

Having a diverse team brings about new and welcome perspectives on every aspect of the business. I consult with several employees and make sure I always consult with people of varying backgrounds so I can get as many perspectives on something as possible. Often times you’ll learn something incredible that you wouldn’t have dreamed up because your life experiences are so different from someone else’s. I use this a lot with marketing, and teaching, it is an incredible and important resource.

5. Representation.

Having a diverse staff also gives you the chance to offer a diverse representation to the community. As a music studio, we have a lot of diverse school-age students, and it is great for the students to be able to see a teacher who looks like them, that they might not otherwise get at school, or even at work. I never once had a Black teacher myself, but now I have over 30 students who can’t say that now.

What advice would you give to other business leaders to help their employees to thrive?

If you really want your employees to thrive, the absolute best advice I can give is to pay them what they’re worth. If an employee doesn’t have to worry about where their next meal is coming from, I find they’re a lot more productive, and generally happier. Our lowest pay tier is $27 an hour, and that is only our student rate!

What advice would you give to other business leaders about how to manage a large team?

Communication is extremely important to manage a large team of people, but the biggest thing is trust. If you can communicate a welcoming and safe environment to your team, they will be much more likely to trust you and communicate better. Remember you choose your team, so get your team a safe space, stand behind them and don’t let them down.

We are very blessed that some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this 🙂

Honestly there are so many that I would choose, but if I had to pick one right now it would probably be Billy Porter. He represents all lot of the things we are trying to accomplish in the community, being a gay, Black performing artist and succeeding really inspired us to persevere.

How can our readers further follow your work online?

You can check us out online at pmpmusicstudio.com. We’re also active on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, TikTok and YouTube. The links to all of our socials are located on our website and our handle is @pmpmusicstudio

Thank you for these excellent insights. We wish you continued success in your great work.


Aaron Gray Of Practice Makes Perfect Music Studio On Why Diversity Is Good For Business was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

DIY.org: Bhavik Rathod and Tripti Ahuja’s Big Idea that Might Change the World

An Interview With Fotis Georgiadis

Don’t try to be perfect right out the gate. Ruthless prioritization is key. The general tendency in most start-ups is to try a hundred different ideas. Be careful that you don’t fall into that trap. Always calculate the effort to reward ratio, figure out the key metrics you want to track, and FOCUS.

As a part of my series about “Big Ideas That Might Change The World In The Next Few Years” I had the pleasure of interviewing Bhavik Rathod and Tripti Ahuja.

Bhavik Rathod is the Co-founder and CEO at DIY.org. Bhavik was the founding leader of Uber in India. He launched their first city, scaled their operations across South-West India & Sri Lanka, and was most recently the Head of Uber Eats in India & South-Asia. Prior to Uber, Bhavik founded EmployeeSocial, a social rewards and recognition solution for large enterprises and has also worked at Ernst & Young as a Manager in Finance Transformation, consulting CFOs around the world.

Tripti Ahuja is the Co-founder and COO at DIY.org. Tripti has spent 10 years designing customer experiences for top companies around the world, and an additional five years being part of founding teams at early-stage startups in India. Prior to founding DIY, she was the Co-founder at 400 Things, a destination for luxury handcrafted items and the founding leader at Rizort, a marketplace for luxury resorts around the world.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dig in, our readers would like to get to know you a bit. Can you please tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?

As business consultants based out of New York, we were both pursuing our individual careers. Over time, we found ourselves more and more interested in what was happening in India with respect to the burgeoning start-up ecosystem.

Reading up on the news and excitedly discussing new ideas, initiatives, tech innovations, infrastructure, and more had somehow become the best part of our day. We knew we had to walk the walk and take that plunge. We moved to Bangalore, India in 2010, which is where some of the most successful startups started and made their marks. The more we worked toward making our plans a reality, the stronger our faith grew that we could also one day be the kind of entrepreneurs that make a powerful positive impact on the lives of all the people that our business touched.

When Bhavik took an opportunity with Uber, it wasn’t only about helping our customers move conveniently from point A to point B, but also (and just as importantly), it was about the 100,000 drivers and their families whose lives were made better by being part of the Uber family. This emphasis of our work’s impact is what drives us to create and innovate.

Can you please share with us the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?

Bhavik feels life has a way of sometimes lining up coincidences that steer you in directions that you later realize were probably meant to be. When he attended the Uber Leadership Summit in 2014, he interacted with some of the most powerful investors in the valley, like Arianna Huffington, Bill Gurley, and Ashton Kutcher, who were building eco systems that were improving the lives of every individual they touched. In that room, he truly felt as if there were no limits to what could be achieved and it truly inspired him to take that really big next step.

Tripti has a similar story. She had been looking for a home on rent and ended up looking at a house owned by Mohit Saxena, co-founder of InMobi. As she was speaking to him, she realized that this just might be a sign from the universe to take that leap and start her own travel start-up company — which she then went on to do!

Which principles or philosophies have guided your life? Your career?

The biggest principle that guides both Bhavik and Tripti is to Build What Matters. Whatever you do, big or small, work towards creating something that would make a valuable difference for your consumers.

“Making a product that you are proud of with people that you genuinely respect and care about is what gets us all up and excited for each new day,” said Tripti.

Another important philosophy they remind their teams of is that they’re not part of the proverbial rat race.

“You’re building something unique so of course there will be risks,” Bhavik said. “Go on out there and take them — your team will always have your back.”

Ok thank you for that. Let’s now move to the main focus of our interview. Can you tell us about your “Big Idea That Might Change The World”?

Between the ages of 5 and 15, kids are in their most formative years. We also know that human beings are the summation of their experiences. What we are trying to do via DIY is to touch as many childhoods as we possibly can with positive content and hands-on learning. We aim to encourage skill-building by fostering a healthy competitive spirit and build a community of proactive, self-confident, eager-to-learn, and — above all — kind children. We hope that these kids will go on to become adults that have the same qualities.

How do you think this will change the world?

DIY is the largest global interest-based community where kids interact with each other and learn hundreds of skills through thousands of how-to videos, hands-on projects and live interactive workshops. Kids on DIY think, learn, and create in a safe environment that is moderated by mentors, 24/7, across all time zones. If a kid wants to learn how to do science experiments at home, we’ve got them covered. If a kid loves playing the piano but wants to learn some tips or showcase their talent in front of a global audience of supportive kids, we’ve got that covered too!

Keeping “Black Mirror” and the “Law of Unintended Consequences” in mind, can you see any potential drawbacks about this idea that people should think more deeply about?

A concern that we do have is how more and more dependency on screens is bound to have negative repercussions. Of course, adults generally know that too much of anything is never a good idea. But since our product is meant for kids, there is a lot more riding on us as creators to make sure that our platform doesn’t negatively impact the very kids we’re trying to empower.

We make sure that all the content we put on DIY has an action element associated with it. For example, kids can watch TV shows on DIY, but each show has inspired challenges that tells kids to get off their screens to go build projects based on whatever they have learned so far. In fact, we’re really proud of the fact that for every 10 minutes spent on DIY, kids spend 30 minutes offline thinking, planning, and creating.

Was there a “tipping point” that led you to this idea? Can you tell us that story?

Our moment of realization came to us in the early phase of the COVID-19-induced lockdown. The world was collectively going through experiences that were brand new, and in several cases, quite unsettling. We were worried about our six-year-old daughter struggling to adapt to the new online mode of communication and learning, but she adapted quickly! How?!

We’d always believed that the future of learning was online, but this positive experience brought home the sheer vastness of what could be achieved on a global level. The main idea behind DIY is for every kid to have access to ideas, tools, and techniques that help them pick up skills and also connect with other kids on the other side of the planet in ways that inspire them to be better learners, faster builders, and happier individuals.

What do you need to lead this idea to widespread adoption?

We believe more and more parents need to focus on not just the academic side of learning, but also social learning and project-based learning. It’s important that kids are able to look at a problem and break it down into steps that bring out a solution. Kids need to ask more critical questions and be able to reason things out as a part of everyday problem solving.

We believe that the most practical way of doing this is by enabling kids to do it themselves via projects and real-world activities that help them pick up skills that stick for life!

More parents and educators around the world are adopting DIY as a way of life. They need better and more strategic resources that stimulate action. Through DIY, we want to become the biggest supporter of parents and teachers around the world as they raise their children to be smarter, more responsible and self-confident adults.

What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started” and why.

  1. It’s not going to be easy. Keep your head, even if all those around you are losing theirs, and it’ll all turn out for the best. Bhavik and Tripti started a travel company right before the COVID pandemic hit, and they were quick to pivot to an ed-tech startup for kids.
  2. Define what success means to YOU. Ultimately, what matters is the user joining your community and staying on long-term for the experiences that you offer. Everything else is just noise.
  3. Don’t try to be perfect right out the gate. Ruthless prioritization is key. The general tendency in most start-ups is to try a hundred different ideas. Be careful that you don’t fall into that trap. Always calculate the effort to reward ratio, figure out the key metrics you want to track, and FOCUS.
  4. A great team is far more important than having even the best idea in the world.
  5. There will always be 20 opinions. Stick to your convictions no matter what.

Can you share with our readers what you think are the most important “success habits” or “success mindsets”?

  1. Prioritizing mental health.
  2. Carefully giving time and attention to family.
  3. Being data-driven and focusing on key metrics.
  4. Celebrating even your small successes.

Some very well known VCs read this column. If you had 60 seconds to make a pitch to a VC, what would you say? He or she might just see this if we tag them 🙂

DIY is here to change the world. We believe it has the power to change mindsets and build communities that care about kids acquiring important life skills that place them in good stead to take on all the challenges and opportunities that the world has to offer. Offering a very strong solution in the after-school learning space, DIY is an amazing proposition for kids, parents, and educators globally.

How can our readers follow you on social media?

Instagram: @diyorg | LINK HERE

Facebook: @diy.org — The Social Learning App For Kids | LINK HERE

YouTube: LINK HERE

Twitter: LINK HERE

Thank you so much for joining us. This was very inspirational.


DIY.org: Bhavik Rathod and Tripti Ahuja’s Big Idea that Might Change the World was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

Makers of The Metaverse: Terry Guy Of Secret Wall On The Future Of The VR, AR & Mixed Reality…

Makers of The Metaverse: Terry Guy Of Secret Wall On The Future Of The VR, AR & Mixed Reality Industries

An Interview With Fotis Georgiadis

Network + Collaborate — Need to surround yourself with a solid supporting network and experiment.

The Virtual Reality, Augmented Reality & Mixed Reality Industries are so exciting. What is coming around the corner? How will these improve our lives? What are the concerns we should keep an eye out for? Aside from entertainment, how can VR or AR help work or other parts of life? To address this, we had the pleasure of interviewing Terry Guy.

Where the notions of originality and creativity intersect, Terry Guy is at the center. As a creative visionary, Terry Guy founded Secret Walls in London in 2006, building a stage where there wasn’t one — for artists and their communities — to gather, celebrate, and be inspired. By seeing artists as athletes and leaning into the Art of Competition, Terry unlocked some of the most unique, sought-after IRL + URL programming in the world — the true global leader in live art entertainment.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dig in, our readers would like to get to know you a bit. Can you tell us a bit about your backstory and how you grew up?

My name is Terry Guy and I am currently living in Los Angeles, but I’m originally from the magical Isle of Wight, an island off the south coast of England. I studied Digital Design and Animation in London but after graduating I quickly realized that finding a proper job was tough. So, in 2006, I created Secret Walls — a live illustration battle platform where artists take a stage to show off their talent and compete to win. The vision was to disrupt the dusty art gallery scene, entertain fans, support local artists and showcase the best creativity on the planet.

Secret Walls is a LIVE Arts and Entertainment company that is known for the Paint and NFT Battles we have hosted in 50+ countries around the world.

Is there a particular book, film, or podcast that made a significant impact on you? Can you share a story or explain why it resonated with you so much?

The energy of the city nightlife and the urban landscape were my two inspirations when creating Secret Walls. I was also inspired by films like Fight Club, Style Wars, Battle Royale and Warriors as well as Secret Wars comics. Live competitive sports also play a role in how I structure a Secret Walls battle. Football (soccer) is the reason why 90 mins is how long a battle takes. I’d have to say the one book that played a huge role in my entrepreneurial spirit was It’s Not How Good You Are, It’s How Good You Want to Be by ad man Paul Arden — This made me feel like everything was possible.

Is there a particular story that inspired you to pursue a career in the creative industry? We’d love to hear it.

When I was younger, I was never focused at school and always achieved the minimum to get to the next level. I knew I wanted to do something creative but my options at the time were limited. I remember one night when I was 16, my uncle and aunt came over for dinner and gave me some great advice. I always looked up to them because they were both entrepreneurial and traveled around the world for business. They encouraged me to embrace my passion for creativity and move to the big city of London. This inspired me to pursue a creative career via University in London, but to get there I needed to do more than just the minimum. So that is what I did — I got my grades up and went to college to study computer programming and then ended up at University a few years later living a dream studying digital arts and animation.

My upbringing and story from a working class family helps me stayed grounded to this day and allows me to understand and communicate with the kids of today who do not see arts as cool or a future career option. My mission with what we do at Secret Walls Academy is to make them see it as a fun subject and one with infinite potential — Telling the Secret Walls story and showing them what we do and that we get paid to make street art and illustrations, really does make their faces light up. They can quite quickly see how comics, movies, video games, sports all weaves into the arts, and now we have web3 technology / innovation layered over the top of that. The next ten years will be a fun and fruitful space for those that put the work in!

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began this fascinating career?

There are so many fun adventures, but the one that really stands out was the Secret Walls Euroleague that we created in 2010. This was an ambitious tournament concept that I dreamt up where we recruited 17 city teams to participate across the year. We were able to work miracles and brought in Casio, Edding, Ecko, and Reebok to sponsor an amazing year-long event that included over 50 battles. We would battle 2–3 times a week and had super fans flying out to the various European cities to come support. The sporting and competitive side of Secret Walls was really born out of this project and made us see the much larger potential a brand like ours could achieve. I had artists telling me that they were traveling for the first time and that these creative events were inspiring them to go bigger.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

Here’s a funny one…I remember when Marc Ecko told me and the team to buy this thing called Bitcoin back when it launched in 2009 and was cents on the dollar per coin. We didn’t have a clue what he was talking about when he said “crypto coins” but I wrote it down to research. The funny and regrettable part was I didn’t follow up and only recently found that notebook that says “Marc Ecko says to buy some Bitcoin.” Moral of the story: When someone who is already very successful tells you to do something…just get it done ASAP.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

When Secret Walls first started, Marc Ecko was one of our biggest supporters. He came from the graffiti world and became a hip hop/media multimillionaire very quickly. He built huge companies and has a great vision for arts and business. We were very fortunate that he found us early and saw the potential in Secret Walls…probably before we realized it ourselves. Marc gave us our first few sponsorship checks, bought the original canvases and was always there to give us solid business advice. Keen to reconnect with him one day soon to show him what we have built.

Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?

Everything we do is built with the SYLA (Support Your Local Artist) DNA in mind, and we always want to shine a spotlight on new talent and inspire audiences young and old to have fun and see the arts in new ways. Secret Walls has built a community and high energy show around the Art of Competition. This is a powerful movement that will expand in its fandom in the coming years.

There are tons of exciting new updates coming this year with some big ones just announced, such as the evolution of Secret Walls from a black and white original paint battle has now evolved with new digital battle formats that are in full color. We also have a huge bus tour in the works that we are very excited about. You are the first to hear about it outside of the Secret Walls HQ but we are excited to share more info soon on what cities across the US we will be battling in.

Ok super. Thank you for all that. Let’s now shift to the main focus of our interview. The VR, AR and MR industries seem so exciting right now. What are the 3 things in particular that most excite you about the industry? Can you explain or give an example?

Secret Walls and the battle universe transfer very easily into VR, AR and MR — we already have a year of battle tests behind us in some of these spaces and the future is very exciting. The 3 things that most excite me about the industry include web3 mentality, DAO’s and disruptive blockchain NFT ownership. All of this will lead to a strong creator’s economy, a reality we have been dreaming about since day one.

This new web3 world offers so much opportunity to an art community like ours that make the new horizons look endless with what can be achieved with some hard work and hustle. What makes me very bullish in this new world is that we have a tried and tested brand that still stands strong 16 years on and now we enter this new era that is offering us solutions to problems we could not solve previously. Everything from protecting artwork IP, royalties paid correctly through the blockchain, getting the art into the home of the masses using VR and digital tech.

The tech is evolving so fast it is hard to keep up but we are slowly surrounding ourselves with smart leaders from these worlds and have opened our IP and platform up to try any fun experiments. We will always approach everything we do from a “Live Arts Entertainment” viewpoint first and then look to add any layers that enhances the experience, the show, the art and gets us to the moonshot goal of getting live art back in the Olympics.

What are the 3 things that concern you about the VR, AR and MR industries? Can you explain? What can be done to address those concerns?

Probably the main concerns at this point would be digital fatigue, equitable access, and global warming.

We consider these issues every day as we build and develop in this space. We will always lean in with our IRL experiences first and then add URL digital elements that will be layered bonuses, so we hope our crowd will not get screen fatigue. Solving the equitable part is a big one that we are always conscious about. Our Support Your Local Artist DNA will always naturally serve a diverse group of artists, mainly those young upstarts and rising stars. The Secret Walls Academy, an arts immersion program that provide teens around the US and globe with a hands-on education in free-style drawing, character design, commercial design, and mural planning, all while fostering open collaboration and enhancing storytelling abilities, will start to tour and help bring the arts and knowledge to kids in underserved areas that need that extra support. In the long run, we dream of creating open online resource spaces that will house conversations for everyone to attend and learn from. Lastly, the environment gets a lot of attention in the media right now and we are aware of the concerns. We hope that as this technology matures, the chains will get greener and more efficient like any other growing industry. Until then, we will always do what we can to offset any projects and do good to our local communities through sensible initiatives.

I think the entertainment aspects of VR, AR and MR are apparent. Can you share with our readers how these industries can help us at work?

VR, AR and MR create capacities for innovation and flexibility at work. Using Instagram Live, Facebook, VR, and other livestream technologies, we have been able to bring in a far larger audience for our eponymous illustration battles, creating a more accessible atmosphere than ever. This virtual shift allowed for even more capabilities to grow our brand into the virtual space.

Are there other ways that VR, AR and MR can improve our lives? Can you explain?

I think we will see huge innovations using this technology in all industries. The way you buy a house can change with the use of VR tours and possibly purchasing a home through the blockchain. There’s growth potential in the healthcare industry with the use of AR glasses for surgeons and VR doctor appointments. It can also extend to how we communicate with our friends and family. Can you imagine a family dinner where family members attend via hologram or a birthday party totally done in the metaverse? It’s a wild time to be alive and being a kid that grew up through the 16-bit SEGA era, I am excited for what is to come.

What are the “myths” that you would like to dispel about working in your industry? Can you explain what you mean?

The myths I am always looking to correct are how the mass audience sees street art, graffiti and the types of alternative talent we have built our brand around. Typically, when people hear these labels, they think of vandals and crime but over the last 10 years this type of urban art has become more pop culture and accepted in everyday advertising and museums. There has been a nice shift and education here, we still have a way to go but we have come a long way since the first graffiti on subway trains back in the 1960’s with legends like Cornbread, Crash and DONDI.

What are your “5 Things You Need To Create A Highly Successful Career In The VR, AR or MR Industries?”

Skillset — Have great ideas and the talent to bring those to life.

Work Rate — Need to be ready to put the hours in and hustle harder than most.

Team — Need a core crew around you that believe in your vision.

Network + Collaborate — Need to surround yourself with a solid supporting network and experiment.

Hype — Be your own hype man and marketing machine through social media and beyond.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

I dream of a world where every kid can create with the tools they need to excel. I would love for Secret Walls to help inspire and inject some energy and fun into the outdated art programs most schools around the world teach. Art and design are needed for pretty much everything we consume, buy and experience and I would love for students rich or poor to understand how to connect the dots of arts and business. Helping more kids get online and using these exciting future tools will create huge change in their lives and inspire them to go onto be the best version of themselves and possibly change the world along the way.

We are very blessed that very prominent leaders read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would like to have a private breakfast or lunch, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them 🙂

I have many heroes and inspirations but for me I would love to sit down with Swizz Beats and chat arts, culture, Verzuz, Secret Walls and how we can build more creative platforms for the next generation. He has DM’ed our brand on Instagram before but we are now ready to show him the blueprint 🙂 Swizz if you are reading, hit me up ☎️

Thank you so much for these excellent stories and insights. We wish you continued success on your great work!


Makers of The Metaverse: Terry Guy Of Secret Wall On The Future Of The VR, AR & Mixed Reality… was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

Makers of The Metaverse: Jon Cheney Of OCAVU On The Future Of The VR, AR & Mixed Reality Industries

An Interview With Fotis Georgiadis

Experience. You do not need a college degree, if you can show me that you know how to create a 3D model, your credentials don’t matter. Of the current workforce at OCAVU, 30% do not have a degree from a university, and no one cares in the slightest. This is such a young industry that if you’re dedicated to your craft, you’ll become experienced very quickly.

The Virtual Reality, Augmented Reality & Mixed Reality Industries are so exciting. What is coming around the corner? How will these improve our lives? What are the concerns we should keep an eye out for? Aside from entertainment, how can VR or AR help work or other parts of life? To address this, we had the pleasure of interviewing Jon Cheney.

Jon is a visionary leader in the world of augmented reality. Prior to founding OCAVU, where Jon currently resides as CEO and founder, he provided 12 years of management over several organizations. Jon is passionate about building strong teams and inspiring them to lead their industry.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dig in, our readers would like to get to know you a bit. Can you tell us a bit about your backstory and how you grew up?

I was raised in Houston, Texas and lived there until I was 12 years old. When my parents were called to serve a mission, our whole family moved to Paraguay for three years, where I went to middle school. After that, we moved to Utah and I’ve lived here ever since — aside from when I was serving a mission for my church in Taiwan after high school. When I returned from my mission, I attended college at BYU and majored in business and Chinese. Having the opportunity to live abroad has given me invaluable life experiences and I am able to speak three languages.

Throughout my childhood, I had several hobbies. I was a competitive gymnast (and can still do a backflip today) and grew up playing the piano and composing my own music. I am still very passionate about music and have published several albums as a professional pianist. I’m also a huge thrill-seeker and love white water kayaking; I was a sponsored kayaker before founding OCAVU.

Is there a particular book, film, or podcast that made a significant impact on you? Can you share a story or explain why it resonated with you so much?

Jurassic Park, specifically the scene where the characters see the Brontosaurus for the first time. The music, cinematography and CGI really resonated with me and led to me composing my own music. The film’s composer is John Williams, of whom I’m a huge fan. The scene where Grant and Ellie first see the brachiosaurus combines music, filming, script-writing, and CGI to create pure movie magic–this has inspired my music and interest in film and media since I was 7 years old watching at the theater.

Is there a particular story that inspired you to pursue a career in the X Reality industry? We’d love to hear it.

We kind of fell into the XR industry. When I started SeekXR, now OCAVU, it started off as a company called Treasure Canyon. We put together physical treasure hunts, hiding prizes in the Utah mountains and posting clues online. That was inspired by Forrest Fenn’s treasure hunt that he launched over a decade ago. When we decided to turn it into an app, we called the app Seek. This was right around the time that Pokémon GO launched. This was my first real exposure to augmented reality, and the way in which the world reacted to this new way to interact with the world inspired us to pivot into AR.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began this fascinating career?

There are so many moments from which I could choose–moments where I would turn to my co-founder and say, “Can you believe we’re here?” One of those moments was standing in a castle in Portugal with some of the most powerful CEOs and investors in the world. It was just at a founders-only event at the Web Summit conference that happens every year, but it’s always so much fun to meet all of the incredible people out there that are building and funding the products we use every single day.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

This mistake isn’t funny, but this had the largest impact on our future and led to our company becoming what it is today. When Seek, now OCAVU, was still in the early stages, we had four different investors that each backed out for different reasons, within days of each other. All of a sudden, we didn’t have enough money in the bank to make our payroll. We were very open with all our employees but we had to let the majority of our staff go. At that moment, we abandoned the B2C app and became a B2B SaaS platform. That ‘failure’ set us on the path we’re on today, and we have survived and thrived ever since.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

I wouldn’t be where I am today without my incredible co-founder, Mike Snow. We met as roommates in college, and he’s stood by my side through the thick and thin of growing this company. We’re quite the team — I hate the operational side of things but Mike knows how to get things done. He is always ready to support my ideas and help make them happen. When we lost our investors, Mike didn’t take a salary for six months, but kept working just as hard, which shows his character and commitment to our vision.

Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?

We are building an NFT platform that we believe can completely reshape the way that communities connect with each other. Right now, brands, influencers, celebrities, sports teams, musicians, and artists use public social media channels to interact with their communities, but they don’t own the content they’re sharing, and there’s no real one-to-one connection for their fans. Our NFT platform will decentralize social, allowing the creators to retain ownership of their content, provide opportunities for fans to engage with people that they admire, and connect with others around a common interest. We’re thinking about NFTs differently than most; these NFTs will provide a real-world utility and long-term value to the person who owns it.

Ok super. Thank you for all that. Let’s now shift to the main focus of our interview. The VR, AR and MR industries seem so exciting right now. What are the 3 things in particular that most excite you about the industry? Can you explain or give an example?

  1. The ever-improving ease of access to get into the metaverse. We’re already there with AR — with OCAVU’s technology you can access 3D content on any device, no app required.
  2. The progress of metaverse hardware. It’s still early days, but the Oculus Quest 2’s performance, graphics and content are impressive and it will only get better.
  3. The future of an AR-enabled world. I envision a true consumer version of AR glasses that can be worn every day that has the ability to turn the whole world into a metaverse. For example, the glasses will remind you of the person’s name you run into at a networking event, unlock incredible creativity to layer on top of the real world, or give you easier ways to consume media than ever before.

What are the 3 things that concern you about the VR, AR and MR industries? Can you explain? What can be done to address those concerns?

  1. Real estate in the metaverse. People are buying virtual land, which is unlimited and easily replicable. Until there is mass adoption, I don’t trust virtual real estate as a solid investment.
  2. Big centralized metaverses. If large companies like Meta monopolize the metaverse, they’ll hold all the power to govern and dictate the content and rules in the metaverse.
  3. Harmful content. With new technology, there’s always new ways for undesirable content to spread. We need to figure out how to protect children (I have four kids) to make sure they’re safe from offensive content and anonymous predators.

I think the entertainment aspects of VR, AR and MR are apparent. Can you share with our readers how these industries can help us at work?

These technologies will allow for greater collaboration without physical barriers as remote work continues to become a major part of our work life. So much progress has been made already; if you wanted to collaborate with someone in another country 50 years ago, it was a lengthy and expensive process. Now, you can chat face-to-face on Zoom or Facetime. But with VR, you’ll be able to actually be in the same room with someone from anywhere, which will be revolutionary and allow collaboration to skyrocket. With AR and MR, there are all kinds of applications. For example, a technician can repair a toilet remotely; they’re able to instruct the customer how to do it themselves by circling specific parts or drawing diagrams on the customer’s video. Insurance companies can process claims more efficiently with live, 3D views of properties. Law enforcement can do a 3D scan of a crime scene so investigators can examine the scene indefinitely, even after it’s cleaned up.

Are there other ways that VR, AR and MR can improve our lives? Can you explain?

These technologies can democratize access to visual learning. When I was growing up, I was fortunate enough to go to well-funded schools that had interactive learning materials, such as a physical model of the heart or a life-size skeleton. Unfortunately, many schools are underfunded and lack these resources. With OCAVU’s AR education platform, any student can explore digital models of the Egyptian pyramids, journey through space, even witness a dinosaur. AR/VR encourages interactive learning and improves student engagement and information retention, especially for visual learners.

What are the “myths” that you would like to dispel about working in your industry? Can you explain what you mean?

People think that NFTs are just a new type of digital art, but they are not. The art is actually just metadata tied to a token on the blockchain. You can tie anything to a token on the blockchain — a picture, video, 3D model, text, physical piece of art or even a house. An NFT is a perfect record of ownership, and an efficient method of transferring that ownership on a public blockchain.

With XR, there are people that still think this technology is still quite a ways off, but they’re mistaken — it’s already here and the rate of adoption is incredibly fast. Brands who think this way are especially behind. If they do not have 3D models for their products ready yet; they’ll be left behind without any compatible content when Apple Glasses are released.

What are your “5 Things You Need To Create A Highly Successful Career In The VR, AR or MR Industries?”

  1. Experience. You do not need a college degree, if you can show me that you know how to create a 3D model, your credentials don’t matter. Of the current workforce at OCAVU, 30% do not have a degree from a university, and no one cares in the slightest. This is such a young industry that if you’re dedicated to your craft, you’ll become experienced very quickly.
  2. Try everything. When a new metaverse launches, explore it. When a new video game comes out, play it. When a new device is released, try it. Spending time participating in this way allows you to stay up to date with what is possible in our industry.
  3. Understand how things connect. From a leadership perspective, grasping how different components fit together at a high level enables you to better communicate with your team. You don’t need to know HOW to do it; but you need to know how to speak the language.
  4. Networking. This is important in any industry, but especially ours, and there’s so many events you can attend in this space. Put the effort in to connect with potential customers, partners and employees. Talk about what you’re doing with like-minded people, and debate with people that disagree with you to learn their perspective. Get out there and test your ideas in the market. It will lead to deals and opportunities.
  5. Stick with it. The reality is, this is not a fast-win industry. If you give up and jump to a different industry, you’ll never become an expert and you’ll never get ahead. But if you stay in the industry for long enough, you’ll start to really understand how things connect, the major players, and how to create real value for people.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

Decentralization. This movement puts power back in the hands of creators. As a creator myself, I recently experienced why this movement is so necessary when I released a Christmas album last year. The album had 200,000 streams, which means I created value for thousands of people — but I only earned a few hundred dollars. Luckily, I compose music to bring joy to others and have another source of income, but so many artists are struggling. If we can decentralize ownership of content so that the creators are the ones being rewarded, we’ll have so much more art in our world.

We are very blessed that very prominent leaders read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would like to have a private breakfast or lunch, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them 🙂

John Williams, the great movie composer, because he’s my hero from a music perspective. Music is such a huge source of inspiration for me. All the different instruments of an orchestra come together to create something beautiful, and that’s a great metaphor for the Web3 ecosystem we’ve built at OCAVU. The sum is greater than the individual and the ecosystem will only thrive if we all work together.

Thank you so much for these excellent stories and insights. We wish you continued success on your great work!


Makers of The Metaverse: Jon Cheney Of OCAVU On The Future Of The VR, AR & Mixed Reality Industries was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

Agile Businesses: Katie Burwell Of AdQuick On How Businesses Pivot and Stay Relevant In The Face of…

Agile Businesses: Katie Burwell Of AdQuick On How Businesses Pivot and Stay Relevant In The Face of Disruptive Technologies

An Interview With Fotis Georgiadis

Keep learning. The more you learn about disruptive technologies and confront the unknowns, the less power they have to disrupt the business. The most important thing leaders can do is continuously take in and synthesize new information. This ultimately allows us to deliberate faster and be swiftly decisive rather than reactive or blind sided by a disruption.

As part of my series about the “How Businesses Pivot and Stay Relevant In The Face of Disruptive Technologies”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Katie Burwell.

Katie Burwell leads business development at AdQuick.com, the first platform to allow marketers to complete the entire process of planning, buying, executing and measuring out-of-home (OOH) advertising campaigns anywhere in the U.S. and around the globe. At AdQuick, Katie oversees over 1300 vendor partners, and is responsible for sourcing and managing new partnerships throughout the marketing ecosystem.

Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series. Our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your ‘backstory’ and how you got started?

Thanks for having me! I started my professional career at an IT staffing firm in Ohio. While in the IT business services world, I moved into more sales and solutions-oriented roles until I unexpectedly clicked with a potential client and the work their organization was doing. There was an opportunity for me to be more hands on in tech which was where my education and professional interests were aligned. I got to help shape some interesting pieces of software, participate in full development cycles and take it to market as a sales engineer–and ultimately moved to New York to grow other parts of the business. During this time I was a “digital nomad” working in my clients offices and many coworking spaces around the city doing everything from business process mapping and requirements gathering, to daily project management and media planning. Today, I head up supply side partnerships at AdQuick, the top out-of-home advertising marketplace in the world. I’ve gotten to help launch our programmatic DSP, develop our marketplace programs and enable our internal and external sales teams to hit their goals.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lessons or ‘take aways’ you learned from that?

I really wanted to come in guns blazing so I self-taught a lot of my technical skills and read books on methodology to further enhance my knowledge. But none of that really prepares you for when you run your first script and overwrite important data. Luckily, it was an easily fixable mistake, but that did not stop the gut dropping feeling that my first script blew up some part of our database. The takeaway is the same as woodworking, “measure twice, cut once.” Lastly, you can always have the engineers run the scripts.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?

Adam Culbertson is the manager who hired me away from the IT staffing business which–we both agree now–was a shot in the dark. He is one of the best teachers, mentors and friends I’ve gained in my career. I was a novice in every aspect of the business, role and industry, and he created an environment where experimentation and personal development could exist harmoniously with our KPIs. He helped build my confidence quickly in a new space and that is something I try to impart on the people I work with today.

Extensive research suggests that “purpose driven businesses” are more successful in many areas. When your company started, what was its vision, what was its purpose?

At AdQuick, our mission has always been to empower everyone to put their message into the world. We do that by removing all barriers to out-of-home (OOH) ad buying, with a powerful platform that’s a delight to use. Our products might have evolved over the years, but our mission remains the same.

Thank you for all that. Let’s now turn to the main focus of our discussion. Can you tell our readers a bit about what your business does? How do you help people?

AdQuick is revolutionizing how companies view and approach out-of-home (OOH) advertising. Founded in Los Angeles in 2016, AdQuick’s end-to-end OOH platform has rocketed to the top of the outdoor advertising arena by placing the ability to buy, plan, and measure campaigns right at the fingertips of advertisers. In just six years, AdQuick has turned the OOH space on its head.

As the first true OOH marketplace, AdQuick is at the forefront of reviving the marketing channel long thought to be antiquated and limited to static billboards. Today, thanks to new technologies, a plethora of new formats–i.e., street furniture, wallscapes, and digital OOH to name a few–and AdQuick, marketers are realizing that OOH is truly without limits and has endless space to grow.

Which technological innovation has encroached or disrupted your industry? Can you explain why this has been disruptive?

OOH advertising can trace its roots back before the invention of the internet, when farmers wanted to sell their goods on fences and walls in the early 1800’s. Like every industry, OOH has grown and evolved with the times, eventually becoming the billboards, bus shelters, street furniture and more along the highways and roads that we see around the world. Even today, OOH supports municipalities through partnerships that both broadcast community information and contribute revenue to public budgets.

Until recently the world’s oldest form of advertising was at risk of being left behind. OOH remained stagnant. Unchanged. In 1994, the first digital banner ad appeared and the world of advertising forever changed. The rise of digital advertising quickly evolved to give marketers a clearer look at the ROI they desperately needed. Would OOH be left behind as the dinosaur of the advertising industry? AdQuick wasn’t going to let that happen.

What did you do to pivot as a result of this disruption?

AdQuick is at the helm of bringing OOH advertising into the advanced technology fold. Thanks to AdQuick, advertisers can now buy ad space on billboards, bus benches, transit wraps and more worldwide like they’re web ads.

There’s no question that OOH, and specifically digital out-of-home (DOOH), is an effective medium. However, the process of researching, bidding, securing, planning, executing, and measuring outdoor media have been a complex, confusing, and painfully slow process. AdQuick has changed that.

AdQuick Programmatic DSP provides simple, end-to-end self service, giving advertisers complete control over their OOH campaigns including flexible scheduling, audience targeting, instantaneous creative swaps, and measurements that optimize for conversions rather than impressions.

In the past, advertisers have measured OOH performance through impressions without any connection to conversions. With the ability to get granular and in-depth during the creative process, AdQuick Programmatic DSP provides advertisers with comprehensive analytics to easily monitor and adjust campaigns based on performance. Right from their dashboard, AdQuick Programmatic DSP users can measure and track online, offline and performance KPIs such as in-store foot traffic and sales, app events, attributed conversions and exposure conversion rate.

With such insightful analytics, advertisers can show an OOH campaign’s direct impact on the success of marketing campaigns and ultimately, revenue generation. Advertisers can utilize this data to determine which ad units are the most likely to be high performing and responsively adjust campaigns in real time to capitalize on, and get the most out of, their OOH campaigns.

OOH now effectively competes with the digital advertising industry and beats it in value. Using outdoor advertising space can save marketers time, money, and generate higher consumer response than many forms of in-home or digital advertising.

Was there a specific “Aha moment” that gave you the idea to start this new path? If yes, we’d love to hear the story.

I can’t take credit for the idea, but I was excited to roll up my sleeves and get to work on it. For me, the aha moment is on a weekly rotation these days. Every week I’m reminded that we cannot yet contemplate the full capabilities of what we’re building and how we are pushing the industry forward. The aha moment is that we’re no longer following a framework or looking at how digital is doing things. We’re setting the roadmap as we learn, iterate, and develop these new approaches to OOH.

Programmatic DOOH was talked about for a decade before anyone did anything about it. When we launched our bidder and Rick Rolled Times Square, all of those conversations, conferences and concepts felt very real. It was a big moment; clicking a button and seeing our goofy ad on the Nasdaq screen a few seconds later.

So, how are things going with this new direction?

AdQuick Programmatic DSP now stands alone as a leader in the programmatic DOOH space. Now, media buyers and advertisers have access to the largest collection of OOH inventory available (over 30 billion impressions across 600K screens from 170+ publishers) in real-time.

Placing even more information right in the hands of advertisers, AdQuick Programmatic DSP includes a global map in which advertisers can set filters and quickly scan over 600K ad units across the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, Germany, France, and 13 other major nations. These filters, including geography, CPM, venue type, screen type, publisher, audience, and point of interest, allow advertisers to find the best available units for their OOH campaigns in mere minutes.

AdQuick is continuously introducing ways for advertisers to uplevel their programmatic OOH campaigns. For example, AdQuick introduced dynamic creative and smart spend controls to enable advertisers to optimize their creative content and deliver the right content at the right moment. More specifically, users can optimize their content based on dynamic triggers, such as the weather, dayparting and point of interest. Smart spend controls help advertisers stay within budget by auto adjusting budget allocation based on performance.

Advertisers finally have the experts and resources needed to make the most of their OOH campaigns and deliver meaningful — and measurable — results.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started this pivot?

Perhaps it’s okay to admit now, but I knew next to nothing about programmatic advertising when we started building our DSP. I was very much in the deep end learning to swim in this world. Together with our engineers and some fantastic partners, I got to see our programmatic DSP go from zero to sixty–and now we have bonafide experts in DOOH programmatic sales and strategy at the helm which is incredibly satisfying.

Overseeing the programmatic and direct supply side of our platform has given me a unique perspective on how things function across different sides of the industry. Almost nothing is simple, but AdQuick makes it very easy.

What would you say is the most critical role of a leader during a disruptive period?

A leader needs to have a laser focus on the vision. There are endless distractions, lots of parties that have different priorities, markets rising and falling, and upstarts trying to hack their way in. I used to row and in a boat race, your job is to be in sync with your crew for 2000 meters. If you look at the boat next to you, your 11-pound head turn disrupts the entire boat’s stroke. Keep your head in the boat and row.

When the future seems so uncertain, what is the best way to boost morale? What can a leader do to inspire, motivate and engage their team?

Ground yourself every day in the things you do that have made you successful to this point. The chance that those behaviors need to change are slim, but they will be refined and applied in different and innovative ways in the future. Make sure you celebrate every win, professional or personal. Celebrate every new feature shipped as well. Learn from your team and what makes them feel successful.

Is there a “number one principle” that can help guide a company through the ups and downs of turbulent times?

Prepare to be adaptable. A lot of organizations get very tied to their processes, governance, and the way things have always been done. All of these practices seem functional on paper but can make the business brittle and ill prepared to pivot much less survive turbulent times. Disaster Recovery is not just about servers anymore, it’s about your space, your people, your product, and your planned reaction to disruption.

Can you share 3 or 4 of the most common mistakes you have seen other businesses make when faced with a disruptive technology? What should one keep in mind to avoid that?

  • Thinking you can only do the thing you’ve been doing in the face of disruption. Outdoor advertising used to be thought of as old fashioned or only a brand awareness medium. Now, through connected DOOH networks and robust measurement, OOH performs alongside digital, radio and TV, positively impacting every part of the marketing funnel.
  • Another misstep is that they hit the brakes or shift budgets away from the core product or strategies, but instead end up churning through valuable resources. When technology is disrupted, like the changes we’re seeing to third party cookies, it doesn’t mean every innovation that uses cookies is broken. OOH is not becoming more or less valuable because of cookie policies. OOH is valuable because it communicates with the masses and it has since long before the internet.
  • Lastly, I’ve seen companies overcomplicate their pitch while trying to pivot around disruptive technologies. Facebook is one of the most disruptive platforms in advertising, privacy, politics, you name it. They’ve added and removed features countless times. However, after all these years evolving into the ad platform they are today, their pitch to consumers is still social networking: connect with people, share photos, and invite your friends. Explaining something simply and consistently can outlast disruptive tech.

Ok. Thank you. Here is the primary question of our discussion. Based on your experience and success, what are the five most important things a business leader should do to pivot and stay relevant in the face of disruptive technologies? Please share a story or an example for each.

  • Stay nimble — The more attached we get to one way of doing things the less easy it is to pivot, so staying nimble means you’ll never get whiplash. OOH selling and buying was done the same way for a very, very long time. Companies that have implemented technology, partnered with emerging companies, and prepared for a future where things would be done differently have enjoyed growth and stability.
  • Iterate or Die — Okay, this is the title of a book by Eric Berridge and Michael Kervin, but the sentiment carries through. Disruptive technologies don’t care about your roadmap or development cycle. Media used to be planned and bought in 12-month upfront cycles. We’ve all experienced how much can change in one year, so by allowing teams to iterate and run shorter sprints whether in software development or media planning, you are allowing your teams to not just move faster, but adapt to disruptions in real time, and preserve your dollars by not locking budgets up in long term programs.
  • Keep an open mind — Not every disruptive technology is going to disrupt your business. Maybe it’s invigorating or having less of an impact than you thought it would. Third-party cookies, which I mentioned earlier, that are heavily integrated into marketers’ measurement and tracking models are going away. What we have seen measuring OOH campaigns at AdQuick, where some of our data sets rely on cookies.
  • Try it — One of our core values at AdQuick and an important part of pivoting is trying new things. Run experiments and establish what success looks like. Empower every member of your team to be entrepreneurial and seek out solutions.
  • Keep learning. The more you learn about disruptive technologies and confront the unknowns, the less power they have to disrupt the business. The most important thing leaders can do is continuously take in and synthesize new information. This ultimately allows us to deliberate faster and be swiftly decisive rather than reactive or blind sided by a disruption.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

“If you rest, you rust.” — Helen Hayes. I’ve applied this quote throughout my life whether it be pursuing sport, lifelong learning, or work. While I do not wish to have an 80-year career like Ms. Hayes, I’ve always striven to keep momentum, stay energized, and reject complacency.

How can our readers further follow your work?

Follow me and AdQuick on LinkedIn and Twitter!

Thank you so much for sharing these important insights. We wish you continued success and good health!


Agile Businesses: Katie Burwell Of AdQuick On How Businesses Pivot and Stay Relevant In The Face of… was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

Makers of The Metaverse: Matt Fedorovich Of Insight Enterprises On The Future Of The VR, AR & Mixed…

Makers of The Metaverse: Matt Fedorovich Of Insight Enterprises On The Future Of The VR, AR & Mixed Reality Industries

An Interview With Fotis Georgiadis

Spreading Knowledge, Insights, Lessons: I’m a firm believer in humble sharing. Maybe someone else’s ideas could ping-pong off yours (and vice versa) and lead to something really special. The industry always has been a small group of people that are pushing ideas forward, and we should maintain this sense of camaraderie and community. We will collectively benefit if we can support others in advancing developments across the industry.

The Virtual Reality, Augmented Reality & Mixed Reality Industries are so exciting. What is coming around the corner? How will these improve our lives? What are the concerns we should keep an eye out for? Aside from entertainment, how can VR or AR help work or other parts of life? To address this, we had the pleasure of interviewing Matt Fedorovich.

With more than 10 years of experience in gaming, mobile and spatial computing, Matt focuses on bringing the latest virtual, augmented and mixed reality solutions to enterprise clients. He believes eliminating the barrier to entry for the next dimension of computing is key to realizing impactful business value and promoting a deep integration of natural spatial interfaces.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Is there a particular book, film, or podcast that made a significant impact on you? Can you share a story or explain why it resonated with you so much?

Although this may sound a bit cliché from someone who works with immersive technologies, “The Matrix”, “Ready Player One” and “Minority Report” are all films that have had a profound impact on me and influenced my career trajectory in the industry.

Specifically, these films challenged the way I thought about “reality” in general — apart from all the captivating technical and extended reality (XR) implications — and made me realize that there are potential scenarios in which alternate realities (similar to our own reality) could exist once we have the compute power and recreation methods available. I also love Christopher Nolan’s “Inception,” particularly the dream sequence, because it encourages questioning everything around us.

Is there a particular story that inspired you to pursue a career in the X Reality industry? We’d love to hear it.

I have been involved in the gaming industry for a long time. My initial interaction with mixed reality (MR) was through HoloLens, Microsoft’s take on augmented reality that uses multiple sensors, advanced optics and holographic processing that melds seamlessly with its environment. That was one of the most mind-expanding moments in my career to date.

Having a device display holographic content in front of you, while still seeing my physical surroundings at the same time, was really incredible. Then having that content interact with the physical world around me was even more incredible! From that point forward, I knew I wanted to work on accelerating that kind of technology and innovation in the space.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

Once I encountered a situation where there was too much immersion in an application. Years ago, we built a “mini-game” application that was intended to put people into real environments — like browsing paintings in an art gallery and or walking through exhibits at a certain museum — through XR. The thinking was that someone would put on a headset and then be able to “walk around” and look at the different sculptures and pieces.

However, unintentionally, the experience was so immersive for the participants that a couple users “lost” all sense of their actual environment and were left discombobulated and confused once they took off their headset. To put this into context, because advanced headsets are more powerful, a lot of fidelity and realism can be packed into certain experiences like these.

The lesson here is that we must always remember the human aspect of this technology and how whatever is built physiologically affects people, as well as how they think, feel and behave. This is particularly true for adults who are often newer (and perhaps more susceptible) to these concepts than the younger generations are. Immersive experiences can be overwhelming if not handled in considerate, thoughtful ways by experts building and designing these devices and accompanying software.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

I’m extremely grateful to my first mentor, a well-seasoned, intelligent startup founder who pulled me into his growing organization when I was in high school (even though what was going on around me was a bit over my head as a teenager!) For context, this happened at the beginning of the iPhone revolution, so it was a really exciting time for technology and innovation across the board.

Through this opportunity, I went from doing some basic icon design and branding to actually working with the team to build full-scale mobile 3D games. I was so inspired and driven by the work they were doing. In fact, I still follow the principles and ideologies I learned from this startup founder today.

Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?

What’s great about AR, VR and MR is the potential to redefine innovation and problem-solving across industries — spanning manufacturing, education and beyond. We’re working with a variety of companies to help them figure out how to solve for business challenges by utilizing these technologies in smart ways.

Think about healthcare innovation, for instance, and this “reality switching timeline” that medical professionals can progress through, where they journey through AR, MR and VR to hone their craft. AR has the ability to boost the depth and effectiveness of medical training in many areas, including imaging equipment training and simulations of complex surgeries, leveraging things like holographic content. The “end” of this timeline, is, of course, practicing on real patients in real life. The cycle continues as VR can provide recurring education and training, and the journey repeats itself, helping those in the medical field improve patient outcomes time and time again.

We’ve worked with Alder Hey Children’s Hospital and the National Health Service in England on a project like this. They sought immersive and mixed reality technology to reduce the amount of physical contact between hospital staff, patients and visitors during the pandemic. But they also wanted a way to allow practitioners, including pediatric heart surgeons, to share their exact view with other remotely located experts while in the operating room to consult in real time during a procedure. This allows clinicians in acute care scenarios to remain heads-up and hands-free to concentrate on their lifesaving tasks — allowing surgeons to share information and their exact view in high-definition without pausing their work or holding additional devices. It also enhances surgery by using 3D visualization to aid clinicians when performing heart procedures, increases the number of people who can observe live and improves the ability to record procedures for VR training later to practice procedures.

We’re also working with businesses that are looking to AR, MR and VR as a “virtual office” for HR onboarding and training support. In fact, one of my teams was inspired to hold our weekly Friday meeting in VR, where my colleagues — who are physically located all around the world — can work and collaborate with greater ease. In this regard, the metaverse can be helpful for things like design reviews, review processes, creating presentations, etc.

One project I’m personally working on that I’m really excited about is preserving memories in 3D. The ability to capture certain memories, such as a family gathering or celebration, and then reliving them in real-world scale rather than on a simple 2D screen, is pretty remarkable. I love that immersive technology has the power to bring raw emotion and interaction back to the places and people we love.

Ok super. Thank you for all that. Let’s now shift to the main focus of our interview. The VR, AR and MR industries seem so exciting right now. What are the 3 things in particular that most excite you about the industry? Can you explain or give an example?

  1. Convergence of Reality: I’ve been waiting for cloud, AI and devices to start colliding, and it seems like everything is coming to a head now, which is exciting to see. There’s a unique integration ability from which we’re seeing businesses deriving value. One device can handle multiple realities, as opposed to requiring companies to purchase two different applications and devices in order to unlock sufficient value on their proof of concept. Now, there’s one solution from one device that generates an ROI with multiple realities. That advancement is critical for businesses that are looking for an integration component for their technology.
  2. Advancements in Hardware: It’s clear that developments across the industry are contributing to improvements in physical hardware products. For instance, we’re starting to see cutback in the size of certain devices (e.g., headsets are getting lighter) as well as longer wear times, improved battery life and better processing power. These hardware advancements can enable better usability, as well as more efficiency and productivity for users across the board.
  3. Deepening Connections: One of the most powerful improvements this all can have on our lives is connection. Virtual collaboration has been one of the key use cases bringing everyone together across geographies, specialties and skillsets. With spaces like AR, we have the ability to translate speech in real time and build bridges between cultures.

What are the 3 things that concern you about the VR, AR and MR industries? Can you explain? What can be done to address those concerns?

1 . Potential for Misinformation: Because the “metaverse” concept has become more mainstream recently, there are some metaverse experts that have not characterized the technology properly and have — likely inadvertently — contributed to widespread misconceptions. In actuality, there’s really smart, well-intentioned people doing really good work in this space. To this same effect, there’s also concern for content moderation as users could spread misinformation on a platform (like what some might see and try to counteract on traditional social media platforms).

In order to combat these kinds of misinformation issues, companies need to be more transparent about what’s happening in terms of regulation and progression in the space, especially given all the positive outcomes that have resulted — and can result — from continued innovation across VR, AR and MR capabilities.

2. Security Concerns: VR, AR and MR devices can be an entryway for malware or data breaches, so ensuring they are secure is of paramount importance. Metaverse networks are not immune to issues like false identities, fraud, bad actors, phishing, or ransomware attempts. Developers must ensure secure software is a priority from the very beginning, with all devices being encrypted, before pushing any solutions onto the market. Sufficient security is table stakes.

3. Privacy Concerns: In a similar vein, there should always be heightened vigilance anytime someone’s personal identifiable information is involved. These industries are no exception. Building safe, properly regulated virtual worlds should be top of mind for all organizations that seek to build immersive experiences.

To accomplish this, original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) must prioritize finding ways to manage privacy concerns and protect peoples’ personal data at the very beginning of the ideation process. The good news is there’s a lot of important work being done, especially across enterprises, to lock the security and privacy pieces down.

Within the virtual worlds, there is also concern for personal space. As we enter new worlds in new avatars, there is a movement to implement tools to stop things like verbal or physical abuse that would then cause mental trauma. Because users are so immersed in the virtual world, mental trauma can be just the same as in reality.

In a recent development, OEMs like Meta are building in “safe zones” that places a protective bubble around your avatar when a user feels threatened. Within it, no one can touch them, talk to them or interact with them in any way.

What are the “myths” that you would like to dispel about working in your industry? Can you explain what you mean?

It can be difficult to imagine what the metaverse is like until you actually experience it. I think a lot of people still have a misrepresented, preconceived notion of what the metaverse can do for us (think “cartoon-y” avatars and video games).

As AI advances and devices improve, metaverse technology will as well, particularly as it relates to improvements in realism. With all the exciting developments, it’s a really interesting career path.

What are your “5 Things You Need To Create A Highly Successful Career In The VR, AR or MR Industries?”

1 . Harnessing the Ability to Ideate in 3D: One must rebuke traditional, classical ways of thinking that have been commonplace over the past 40+ years to be successful — and disruptive — working in immersive technology. “Typical” problem-solving is limited by 2D constraints instead of expanding one’s horizons, designing and building in a boundaryless, spatial way.

The reality is that we live and interact with things every day in 3D in the real world; this same thinking and ideation should cross over to the digital world. Someone who is interested in a career in the VR/AR/MXR industries must be willing to build from the real world, a cartoon one, their own memory and so on.

2. Embracing Human Design Thinking: While designing and building in the 3D space, you need to design with the human interaction in mind. Best practices for 2D interfaces have generally been set into place, but 3D human interaction design is still in its infancy. The way one interacts with buttons, holographic models or tactile feedback is all new and everchanging.

3. Being Willing to Fail: Let’s face it, having a career in immersive tech means you will fail (a lot.) It’s inevitable. You will undoubtedly encounter roadblocks, whether they be with the device, the visuals or the interface you want to set forth. When this happens, you need to pivot by taking, or even making, an entirely different path as you progress in reaching your goal.

One example that many developers are familiar with is the “build and test” process, in which a developer codes up an application and then runs it on a device to test it out. The challenge with taking this route with immersive experiences, however, is that the simulator cannot necessarily provide the exact same experience as it can on a device. This requires trial and error — and often failure — through building, adjusting, installing, testing, identifying the errors and making changes once again. This cycle happens over and over again; patience and persistence are key.

4. Understanding the Crossroads, Complexities: In the coming years, there will be a convergence of realities, in which many devices will be capable of both VR and AR. Because their abilities will be far superior to what we have today, having a keen understanding of where VR stops and AR begins, and vice versa, is really important.

5. Spreading Knowledge, Insights, Lessons: I’m a firm believer in humble sharing. Maybe someone else’s ideas could ping-pong off yours (and vice versa) and lead to something really special. The industry always has been a small group of people that are pushing ideas forward, and we should maintain this sense of camaraderie and community. We will collectively benefit if we can support others in advancing developments across the industry.

Thank you so much for these excellent stories and insights. We wish you continued success on your great work!


Makers of The Metaverse: Matt Fedorovich Of Insight Enterprises On The Future Of The VR, AR & Mixed… was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

Fulya Uygun Of Bowery Boost On How to Effectively Leverage The Power of Digital Marketing, PPC, &…

Fulya Uygun Of Bowery Boost On How to Effectively Leverage The Power of Digital Marketing, PPC, & Email to Dramatically Increase Sales

An Interview With Fotis Georgiadis

Know how to market yourself. Having the ability to network is just as important as all these other hard skills.

Marketing a product or service today is easier than ever before in history. Using platforms like Facebook ads or Google ads, a company can market their product directly to people who perfectly fit the ideal client demographic, at a very low cost. Digital Marketing tools, Pay per Click ads, and email marketing can help a company dramatically increase sales. At the same time, many companies that just start exploring with digital marketing tools often see disappointing results.

In this interview series called “How to Effectively Leverage The Power of Digital Marketing, PPC, & Email to Dramatically Increase Sales”, we are talking to marketers, advertisers, brand consultants, & digital marketing gurus who can share practical ideas from their experience about how to effectively leverage the power of digital marketing, PPC, & email.

As a part of this series, I had the pleasure of interviewing Fulya Uygun.

Bowery Boost co-founder Fulya Uygun is a digital marketing expert with 15 years of experience. Throughout her career, she has scaled brands through seed funding to Series B in addition to working as lead digital for corporate companies. Her agency works seamlessly to build teams and profitably scale direct-to-consumer (DTC) brands. Before starting Bowery Boost, Fulya worked as the Head of Digital communications at online retailers and brands, including Dermstore, Briogeo and Winkly Lux, and she was brought on by L’Oreal to launch a new DTC brand. Fulya has a business degree from one of the most prestigious colleges in Turkey, Bogazici University, in addition to a postgraduate degree in Marketing from Baruch University, and an MS in Integrated Marketing from NYU. She is also a member of the Female Founders Fund, The 10th House, and the venture firm The Helm, all dedicated to investing in and supporting women and minority entrepreneurs.

Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before we dive in, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your ‘backstory’ and how you got started?

After graduating college with a business degree, I started working at the brand marketing department of a big corporation in Istanbul. As in many entry level positions, I ended up doing all sorts of marketing activities, including graphic design, copywriting, PR, events, etc. About a year in, they somehow handed over their first PPC marketing campaign to me, and I fell in love with data and watching customer behavior online. I knew that was it for me.

I moved to NYC and went to Baruch for a postgraduate marketing degree to get a better understanding of the digital world — this was back in 2009. Facebook advertising was at its simplest, and only about two years old. We were more focused on PPC & affiliate in those years. After Baruch, I ended up at NYU for a masters in digital marketing, and that’s how everything started. I trained myself on top of the academic knowledge and worked my entire career after that in fashion & beauty digital marketing. I loved and am still loving every second of it.

Can you share a story about the funniest marketing mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lessons or ‘takeaways’ you learned from that?

Sure. But just to say it out loud before even getting started, that mistake was not necessarily funny at the time. Now that over 10 years have passed and I’ve learned so much from it, it’s easier to laugh it off.

Around 2010, I built a jewelry eCommerce business. I wanted it to be different, so with my CTO, we built a virtual dressing room where online visitors could try our products online. It was great, and we became one of the semi-finalists of IBM Smartcamp with our tool. It might have been more gimmicky than providing any value to the customer journey, but it was unique.

During the process of building our company, we spent all of our funds to buy merchandise and build our AI. And eventually, when our super user-friendly and elegant site with very talented jewelry designers and stunning pieces was completed, we had absolutely no money left to market it. That’s how I got deeper in marketing — digital marketing to be more specific.

No matter how amazing your product is, if no one knows about it, you’re not going to last. I always tell this to early-stage startups. Marketing might as well be your biggest expense. Be smart when allocating funds to not end up like me. Believe it or not, I still have a whole bunch of designer pieces in my apartment, and I’m almost certain my friends are tired of receiving jewelry as gifts for their special days.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?

Not specifically a person, but a community. Us female founders, we are very well connected and are always ready to support each other. I’m a member of Female Founders Fund and the 10th House, and anytime I need some advice, there are some wonderful female founders there to offer a helping hand. I’m also a member of the Helm, a women- and minority-only investment fund, where we have a community of women that supports each other. I love the community that we have in NY. We are very united and supportive to each other.

What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?

Without sounding super cheesy, I’d like to say that we truly care. I care about each and every client, no matter where they are in their journey. We support our partners. We do more than what is stated on our mission. We are an agency that comes up with suggestions. Problems occur, and my job is not to focus on them — to acknowledge them for sure — but work with our brand partners to test alternative solutions to get us through tough times. Digital marketing is an always-changing industry, and I love it for that very reason. Yet, we need to always be aware of what’s to come to be ready to adjust, and we do that well.

One quick example would be, in the very early stages of Bowery Boost, I was introduced to a brilliant young female founder with an absolutely amazing product. But the funds were low, and we were at the testing stages on the ad platforms. This means as a smart company owner and marketer, you can’t be spending too high. Our agency takes a percentage of spend as a form of payment, and when the budgets are low, we might also end up with very low monthly invoices. We didn’t care about that. Eventually after a three-month period of heavy audience and ad creative tests, we figured out what people react to and want to see. After two years, that particular client is still with us, and now they’re one of our biggest clients.

You are a successful business leader. Which three character traits do you think were most instrumental to your success? Can you please share a story or example for each?

  1. Never stop learning is a big one. Digital is about change, and we need to constantly read and learn to not only follow what’s happening, but to make up our own ideas, truths, and strategies to become pioneers. I read a lot, put together thoughts, build tests, and have fun with it.
  2. Don’t be afraid of failing. For sure it’s a cliche, but it’s my biggest strength. I’m never afraid of failing or making mistakes. I admit it if I made a mistake, and find a way to fix it rather than focusing on the mistake. That part is very important, but only after we find a way to make things better.
  3. Never give up. As long as you believe your goal is humanly possible, you can find a way to get where you want. I’m a driven person. I don’t mind working hard, and sometimes working not-so-smart, but I still try to make things I believe in happen.

Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?

Yes! We have a very fun and exciting project coming up next quarter. As a digital marketing agency, we do see the importance of influencer marketing while working very closely with our agency brand partners. For the last year and a half, we’ve been building a platform that will allow brands to connect with influencers, create content with them for organic and paid social, run true whitelisting ads through our platform, compare results, and scale in a very simple and cost-effective way. Initially, we were planning on using the tool exclusively for our agency partners, but what we built has become way bigger than what we initially targeted.

Ok super. Now let’s jump to the main questions of our interview. As we mentioned in the beginning, sometimes companies that just start exploring with digital marketing tools like PPC campaigns often see disappointing results. In your opinion, what are a few of the biggest mistakes companies make when they first start out with digital marketing? If you can, please share an example for each.

Not running enough research and building goals before starting anything paid digital is a mistake. Digital means data. We have access to so much data with all the advertising and analytics tools out there. Using tools like SEMRush, running a thorough competitor research, and analyzing keyword cost and competitiveness will give you a head start.

In addition to PPC, if we talk about paid social, Facebook has an ad library that you can research ads being run by your competitors. Search for the ads that have the oldest launch date. That somehow might be an indicator that’s a long-term, high-performing asset. We don’t suggest copying from your competitors, as every brand is unique and different in their own way. But it won’t hurt to take some inspiration from them.

Another very important point is building a cost analysis. What are the numbers for break-even? What are the numbers for profitability? Don’t expect them to hit right out of the gate, but build a roadmap with every channel that can get you there and expect improvements each month (except the times of seasonality).

Let’s talk about Pay Per Click Marketing (PPC) for a bit. In your opinion which PPC platform produces the best results to increase sales?

Google Search Ads become more and more important after the iOS14 updates. We saw it coming and started allocating higher budgets on NonBrand Search for our clients to make sure when the data is lost, we have a second channel that supports our growth. We did a great job for many of our clients in finding the least competitive, high-conversion, long-tail keywords to target high-intent, strong ROAS traffic. I’d say definitely Google. And the platform is also coming up with new campaign types like Performance Max, which is picking up pretty well for our certain clients.

Can you please share 3 things that you need to know to run a highly successful PPC campaign?

  1. You need to do your research. You should do a thorough competitor analysis using tools like SEMRush and Moz, and find the keyword gaps that might work for you.
  2. You need to pay attention to your ad quality score. Google values the keyword x landing page relativeness more than any other platform. You should plan on building landing pages for different NonBrand campaigns.
  3. You need to constantly optimize, exclude, and include search terms within your ad sets. You should also not mess with your campaigns during the learning phase. Google takes longer time periods, and it’s definitely less effective during that phase. I won’t say the same thing is true on Facebook. On Facebook, I don’t mind the learning phase that much, unlike what Facebook reps constantly tell us.

Let’s now talk about email marketing for a bit. In your opinion, what are the 3 things that you need to know to run a highly successful email marketing campaign that increases sales?

  1. You need to understand your customer’s journey, and not everyone’s is the same. First-party data, especially after iOS14 updates, became more and more important. Run analysis within your customers, and don’t treat everyone the same.
  2. If you have a strong product mix, figure out the product many of your first time buyers converts the most with. Then build lifecycle funnels to guide people to your high-retention products.
  3. Don’t get spammy and bombard people with lots of email with no value. Email marketing — or any marketing for that matter — is about the customer and how they benefit from your products. Once you build the relationship with your customers, tell them more about your brand and brand values. Brand loyalty is harder than ever to achieve. People would love to know why you’re doing what you’re doing and why your brand matters.

What are the other digital marketing tools that you are passionate about? If you can, can you share with our readers what they are and how to best leverage them?

We use SEMRush for Google Ads analytics. Google Analytics is very important for last-click data. We utilize Supermetrics for our dashboards, and also integrate our Shopify clients to Glew.io for more visual data tracking. We also have a partnership with a creative analysis tool called Motionapp that gives us lots of data about creative performance and next steps for creative tests.

Here is the main question of our series. Can you please tell us the 5 things you need to create a highly successful career as a digital marketer? Can you please share a story or example for each?

  1. You need to love reading and constantly learning. Digital will never stay the same. Last year we had iOS14 updates, next year we need to adjust to the cookieless world. Loving the challenge of it all helps 🙂
  2. We need to adopt and adapt to newness. New platforms, new data collecting techniques — there’s always something new.
  3. Don’t be afraid to test new channels and to be on the lookout for new platforms. We get the best pricing when companies are brand new (when the service makes sense for us to use, of course). Remember the tests, take notes, and learn from them.
  4. Data is important, but we should be aware that the creative — and who you are targeting with that creative — is important. You have to be able to analyze and understand creatives.
  5. Know how to market yourself. Having the ability to network is just as important as all these other hard skills.

What books, podcasts, videos or other resources do you use to sharpen your marketing skills?

I’m old school. I still have my Feedly feed I built years ago, and I update it every year with all ecommerce and marketing publications. I read about 30 minutes every day to go through important titles in the eCom and tech worlds. I also like podcasts like Work Party, Female Founder World, and The Skimm.

Thank you for all of that. We are nearly done. Here is our final ‘meaty’ question. You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

I would want us to question gender roles and stereotypes around gender. Knowing first hand the opportunities we couldn’t tap into just because I am a woman was dejecting. And that’s just a small piece of it.

How can our readers further follow your work?

We’re active on Linkedin, and IG, and starting to be more active on Twitter now.

This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for the time you spent with this!


Fulya Uygun Of Bowery Boost On How to Effectively Leverage The Power of Digital Marketing, PPC, &… was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

Makers of The Metaverse: Adam Hintzman Of 3M On The Future Of The VR, AR & Mixed Reality Industries

An Interview With Fotis Georgiadis

Mistakes are opportunities. When something is new, there are aspects that aren’t fully understood until it’s implemented. For instance, we developed an application for internal use. After it was developed, we realized it didn’t do what we wanted. Ultimately, we decided to redesign most of the app. It happens as part of the learning curve with any new technology.

The Virtual Reality, Augmented Reality & Mixed Reality Industries are so exciting. What is coming around the corner? How will these improve our lives? What are the concerns we should keep an eye out for? Aside from entertainment, how can VR or AR help work or other parts of life? To address this, we had the pleasure of interviewing Adam Hintzman.

Adam Hintzman is a machine design engineer and the AR, VR and MR technology leader at 3M. During his career he has worked to deploy this technology at 3M corporate offices, labs and manufacturing sites worldwide. His passion to empower 3Mers with X Reality has shifted mindsets and prepared 3M for the future.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dig in, our readers would like to get to know you a bit. Can you tell us a bit about your backstory and how you grew up?

Growing up, I watched sci-fi movies, played immersive gaming systems and invented gadgets. These moments always kept me thinking of what could be, instead of what is. For instance, I turned unused lawncare parts into a go-kart, raced for first place in a 90s NASCAR videogame headset, and always wondered if the future of tech would look like anything in the movies. Eventually, these passions grew to a career in which I engineer machinery for a vast array of 3M products and lead some of the company’s efforts to leverage the latest X reality (XR) technologies.

Is there a particular book, film, or podcast that made a significant impact on you? Can you share a story or explain why it resonated with you so much?

Star Wars is easily the most influential movie series to me. Even though it is set in a universe that is apparently different (e.g. space travel, hovering vehicles), it can captivate you and make you believe this could be our near future. As a kid, I was always fascinated by this, especially by the tech.

Some of that technology correlates to what I’m doing now. For instance, Boba Fett’s helmet mounted display resembles a lot of current AR headsets, and R2-D2’s holographic messaging is very similar to the experience with the latest MR headsets. It is exciting to think that what was thought to be futuristic technology just a few decades ago is now reality.

Is there a particular story that inspired you to pursue a career in the X Reality industry? We’d love to hear it.

I have always been interested in the XR industry, but I was focused on the entertainment aspects before working at 3M.

My pursuits into XR for enterprise began at my first 3M engineering picnic when I met my director for the first time. He introduced himself and he asked if I knew about AR and VR. I replied, “It’s augmented and virtual reality,” and he said “Alright, you’re in!” From there I was part of the AR/VR Venture Engineering program, which allocates resources to investigate or develop new techniques, processes and technologies. I capitalized on this opportunity to influence XR at 3M, and I’ve been fortunate to be part of the 3M’s major AR, VR and MR (mixed reality) efforts ever since.

I saw this technology as a means to unite my project stakeholders and break the barriers between the digital and real world. For example, I could use VR to display an interactive model of a new machine design that accurately portrays ergonomics, safety and maintainability. After the design has been approved, I could use AR/MR to review equipment being fabricated or support equipment that has been installed.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began this fascinating career?

The 2020 Consumer Electronics Show (CES), which happened right before COVID shutdowns, was pivotal. I was given an amazing opportunity to represent 3M at CES and explore the latest and greatest XR products. It was like a dream come true! I was able to meet a ton of awesome people and put on tech that I never thought I’d be able to try — like a VR haptic bodysuit that sends electrical charges to your skin to simulate interactions with the virtual world (e.g. wind). It was a “pinch me this isn’t real” situation.

The CES show opened my eyes to a lot of possibilities and helped me realize this isn’t an industry of one, but an industry of many — many individuals and companies that are approaching various industry issues in innovative ways. I also had opportunities to hear some of these individuals discuss how they’ve implemented this technology at an enterprise scale, which inspired me to think about how we can do more at 3M. Let’s keep pushing. Let’s see where we can go with this technology.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

I recall facilitating an MR demo before we deployed MR headsets globally in a glass walled room. I noticed the curious, borderline concerned looks from passersby as their colleagues were rapidly gesticulating and tapping the air. So, I guess my funniest mistake was not picking a more appropriate conference room to conduct product demonstrations.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

Four people come to mind:

Cale Schwalm, my director, enabled me to work on 3M AR/VR/MR when I first started at 3M. He always pushes status quo boundaries and he’s very supportive of 3M’s “15% Culture” of allocating a percentage of your work week to explore areas of interest that aren’t directly related to your day-to-day job. He has been a hands-on supporter of this technology, always willing to help set up for internal demos, coordinating stakeholder meetings and ultimately supporting XR in any way he could.

Jeff Rasmussen, IT risk specialist, is a mentor within the IT organization. Jeff always says “yes, if” rather than “no, because.” He found ways to relate new headsets to existing approved equipment, which significantly helped gain buy-in from IT. His mentorship allowed us to cultivate a strong working partnership with IT that continues to support VR, AR and MR technologies.

Martin Pozniak, digital software engineer, close friend, and AR/MR technology leader is a crucial member of the team. He started the train-the-trainer support network, which has allowed us to support this tech without additional headcount. He always pushes the team to consider how else it can help 3M, and always considers our users with every decision we make.

Elizabeth Harris, Six Sigma black belt, oversaw our business relations with our internal stakeholders. She was an early supporter of the tech and enabled a swift deployment of MR headsets during the start of COVID to enable 3Mers to communicate with each other without needing to travel. She was crucial in helping bridge the gaps between our technical expertise and our stakeholders’ needs.

Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?

From an enterprise perspective, there are four main categories of use cases: communication, training, design and data visualization. Some of which are currently being used, while others are being actively worked on.

Communication: We rolled out mixed reality in 2020 with the Microsoft HoloLens 2 to alleviate communication issues caused by COVID travel restrictions. By using the built-in head mounted camera, 3Mers were able to stream various aspects of their work environments to remote participants, giving a virtual first-person view. It allowed 3Mers to engage in complex situations with vendors, customers and coworkers, and it even assisted with 3M’s respirator production when we had to ramp up production to meet rapidly growing demand.

Training: Training can be broken down into two main categories: virtual and hands-on. For virtual training we use various VR headsets in different ways. For instance, our Personal Safety Division uses VR to train customers on how to use our safety products. This is extremely helpful because you can simulate dangerous experiences without exposing the trainee to any inherent danger. 3M also uses it for tradeshows to showcase how 3M products act in real world simulations (e.g. a driving simulator with various road conditions to demonstrate 3M reflective films on road signs). Personally, I think our work in VR allows us to engage users in ways that traditional media can’t and provides users with a deeper understanding of the content.

For hands-on training, we are actively looking into how MR can elevate the training experience. Since MR allows trainees to view the content hands-free, they can actually go through training steps while performing the tasks. For example, with hand detection you can naturally progress to the next step of the training guide by placing your hand on the next tool. Or, it can be more traditional, appearing as pictures, videos and text. Because the content is holographic, it’s like a 30-inch TV that you can put anywhere you want — above your workspace or wherever you feel like it’s most ergonomic — and see it while you work. It’s more immersive, quicker, and easier to understand than simply watching videos beforehand.

Design: As with training, design is broken into the VR and MR applications. As a mechanical engineer, VR is extremely helpful to make quick iterations with equipment I design. One can quickly view designs in a 1:1 scale from an office and make iterative changes for ergonomics, safety and maintenance-conscious design. VR enables engineering stakeholders to engage with the design by walking around it and interacting with the different touch points. For example, I have seen someone from maintenance simulate a task of replacing a part, which led to accessibility improvements that would not have been addressed without this tech.

For MR, we are looking into holographically placing equipment to check fitment and cohesion with the existing space. This is extremely beneficial as engineering can proactively catch issues with interferences and confirm that assembly and installation of equipment is as designed.

Data Visualization: The holy grail of XR is data visualization. This is the most complex and time-consuming application, but it is the current pinnacle of XR. By interlacing real world parameters with the digital space, you can overlay machine data over the sensors that are creating them. In theory, allowing you to interact with the data and equipment in the real space.

Another exciting development at 3M is that we recently hired our first mixed reality designer, so now we are essentially building the 3M design language for AR, VR and MR. If you consider brand recognition and app development, there is a specific style and format that has been carefully optimized for traditional platforms like phones and laptops. XR brings new modalities, which require a completely new way of designing.

With our own designer, 3M now has the skillset to internally design digital content in this space that is optimized for each platform. For instance, typing is easy on a phone but difficult in XR. And instead of having the limitation of a single screen, you now have a head mounted display. You have something that you can manipulate in any way you want. It opens avenues for a lot of design challenges, but also affords different ways to leverage the technology. So now we’re looking at how we can best create content in this space, not just leverage existing platforms.

The VR, AR and MR industries seem so exciting right now. What are the 3 things in particular that most excite you about the industry? Can you explain or give an example?

I would say it’s accessibility, accessibility, accessibility. Technology is driven by interest, and interest is a product of accessibility.

If you look at VR, it began to reach critical mass when devices became no more expensive than most gaming consoles. In turn, that increased the opportunity for developers to reach a wider audience and justify the cost of their games.

Now, companies are developing new technologies for these industries to further increase their overall accessibility. For instance, 3M developed a folded optics product that significantly reduces the size and weight of VR headsets while improving optical clarity.

What are the 2 things that concern you about the VR, AR and MR industries? Can you explain? What can be done to address those concerns?

  1. Personal safety: There are reasonable concerns from enterprises when adopting XR headsets since they can occlude or augment what you see. Fortunately, the industry has responded to most of those concerns. For instance, VR headsets use pass-through video feed to help ensure users don’t walk into or trip over nearby objects in their immediate real world while they’re interacting in the virtual world.
  2. Metaverse ecosystem: Many companies are trying to create a metaverse of some kind, and the trick will be coming up with a way for all these different devices, operating on different platforms, to interact with each other.

History has shown that different digital ecosystems tend to segregate users, think iOS vs Android. Without synergy in the metaverse, users will struggle to build a digital community, which is especially troublesome with technology that is still being adopted. Fortunately, companies working in this space acknowledge this concern. If they are able to follow through with a device- and platform-agnostic metaverse, then we are going to see tremendous growth in this industry.

I think the entertainment aspects of VR, AR and MR are apparent. Can you share with our readers how these industries can help us at work?

As I mentioned earlier, VR, AR and MR currently have four main use cases at work: communication, training, design and data visualization. Depending on which technology you use, the benefits within these categories change.

VR is a fantastic tool to simulate experiences that would otherwise be costly, dangerous or logistically challenging. If you are a new fork truck operator, you can simulate driving a fork truck in different simulations that prepare you for operating one for the first time.

AR displays digital information in the field of view of the device. If you are stocking a grocery store, now you can pull up your phone and have a digital compass pointing to exactly which shelf the product goes on.

MR combines the benefits of both, allowing a worker to see and interact with holograms that interface with the real world. If you’re an engineer installing new equipment in a specific space, you can overlay your design and visually confirm that it is being installed correctly.

Are there other ways that VR, AR and MR can improve our lives? Can you explain?

There are many different use cases for XR. VR has the power to build friendships while removing geographic limitations. You can attend virtual parties and through body trackers dance away the night. With these technologies, you can pull out your phone and have your GPS app show you how to navigate around a city with overlaid arrows and business information. You can ski and have performance data like heart rate, speed and elevation appear in your goggles. You can showcase the benefits of your product in different conditions without having to transport heavy and elaborate demonstration equipment.

What are the “myths” that you would like to dispel about working in your industry? Can you explain what you mean?

The one myth that I would like to dispel is that new tech can completely replace old tech/processes. In reality, new technology is more of an evolution of current ones, and rarely is it better in every way. For instance, there isn’t a substitute for physically troubleshooting equipment if you are available and travel is possible. In situations where that isn’t the case, new technology can help you get “eyes on the problem” by streaming a first-person view at that location. MR communication isn’t a substitute for travel but it is a powerful solution when travel isn’t possible. In other words, new technology is about adding a tool in the toolbox.

Another myth is that adoption follows innovation. You must focus on real-world use cases to cultivate support and adapt the technology as new uses cases and issues arise. It is easy to forget that most of our technology also had many years of growing pains before it became commonplace. The cutting edge isn’t easy, nor is it quick.

What are your “5 Things You Need To Create A Highly Successful Career In The VR, AR or MR Industries?”

  1. Always say “yes if” instead of “no because.” When we first deployed this technology and we were seeking buy-in, finding ways to assimilate, correlate or compare a new technology to something existing was helpful in changing or shaping perceptions. For example, rather than saying no we can’t use an MR headset because we don’t have the policies in place to manage it, you can say yes if you consider this new headset operating system is roughly similar to a tablet we currently use.
  2. Partnerships and endorsements are crucial. Identify the individuals who will help you and guide you through the obstacles you will almost inevitably encounter, such as negotiating licenses, managing devices or funding new equipment. You can’t navigate these obstacles alone.
  3. Mistakes are opportunities. When something is new, there are aspects that aren’t fully understood until it’s implemented. For instance, we developed an application for internal use. After it was developed, we realized it didn’t do what we wanted. Ultimately, we decided to redesign most of the app. It happens as part of the learning curve with any new technology.
  4. Passion is essential. There’s no reason to get involved with this if you don’t have the passion to do so. You must be driven because you’re going to face a lot of obstacles and you will easily lose your drive to continue. Given time, you might eventually see a technology you have been passionately advocating for become advocated by others — including some who were initially the biggest skeptics.
  5. Vertical integration. Having in-house expertise makes it much easier to create an app or an experience that is exactly what you want. We’ve been doing this for quite some time in the VR space and we have expertise that allows us to create content that we couldn’t necessarily get from the outside.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger.

I would inspire people to break corporate and individual silos. It is very easy to have the mindset that this is my process/idea/specialty without realizing that others in the company might benefit from your experience. I have seen this firsthand with AR/VR/MR and I have been working toward a corporate-wide community of users. It’s incredible when an individual posts about an MR project they are working on and others in the company chime in to offer suggestions or draw inspiration for a different project. Ultimately, we are stronger together and benefit from everyone’s experience.

We are very blessed that very prominent leaders read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would like to have a private breakfast or lunch, and why?

Two people came to mind:

  1. Sandy Monroe: He’s an automotive manufacturing engineer by trade and he has become popular on YouTube for pioneering a new genre of vehicle reviews that seek to understand the engineering behind the vehicles being reviewed. This is the first time I have ever seen anyone review a car that went beyond stating that a car is efficient and address how it is efficient. He demonstrates to a global audience what great engineering looks like, and as an engineer I love to see industry leaders advocate for my passion.
  2. James Hoffman: From a high level he is a coffee connoisseur and has an amazing YouTube channel dedicated to brewing the best coffee. There are few good engineers without coffee, and his videos inspired me to buy my own coffee machine and locally sourced beans. I’d never thought I’d be a coffee aficionado, but here I am!

Thank you so much for these excellent stories and insights. We wish you continued success on your great work!


Makers of The Metaverse: Adam Hintzman Of 3M On The Future Of The VR, AR & Mixed Reality Industries was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

Meet The Disruptors: David Štýbr Of Livento Group On The Five Things You Need To Shake Up Your…

Meet The Disruptors: David Štýbr Of Livento Group On The Five Things You Need To Shake Up Your Industry

An Interview With Fotis Georgiadis

Manage your time: Work, private life, and sleep should always be balanced.

As a part of our series about business leaders who are shaking things up in their industry, I had the pleasure of interviewing David Štýbr.

David Štýbr is the CEO of Livento Group, which focuses on acquiring and developing companies with disruptive business models. He manages AI and machine learning products for portfolio optimization and recently launched the BOXO Production brand focused on movie production. Štýbr is looking for companies where the team can deliver 30x value through an IPO.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dig in, our readers would like to get to know you a bit more. Can you tell us a bit about your “backstory”? What led you to this particular career path?

Since university, I have been leading teams, restructuring organizations, looking for ways to do things more efficiently, increasing performance and delivering added value to companies. I restructured and built four divisions/companies during my time at CPI Property Group in order reorganize the company and a focus on clients and organic growth. I am on the board of Iconic Labs, a UK-listed company, currently acquiring technology companies worth $100 million.

Can you tell our readers what it is about the work you’re doing that’s disruptive?

First, I would say that disruption doesn’t mean always going against the flow at any cost, while just having a vision that something can work. Disruption happens in my work through a focus on specific goals with a strategy to help reach it. These targets are often something new to the market, which creates a disruption in the business or industry. Our stock market Portfolio Management System is a disruptive tool for asset managers and high-net-worth investors that seamlessly rebalances portfolios to obtain the best results. BOXO Productions is also disruptive. Through the brand, we are democratizing investment in movies and TV shows and leveraging the growing customer demand for new entertainment content. We deliver high margins and a positive financial outcome for investors.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

I would say attention to detail is something I missed. I was two days into my new job, as a confident junior finance manager, and I almost got fired. I overlooked that the signature space in one agreement was on an empty page of the document and my boss did not like that. There were two lessons that I learned: first, you never know if you are making your next mistake at any moment, so always be ready, and second, pay attention and think twice before you feel that you’ve completed something.

We all need a little help along the journey. Who have been some of your mentors? Can you share a story about how they made an impact?

My mentors have manifested in a less traditional way. I was working with successful people and managing their assets, and I became very interested in listening to how they got their start in business, their path in life, and any recommendations they had for me.

The most important thing I learned is that what really matters is the paying customer. No matter what business you build, you need to have revenues. I believe that a lot of people in companies that are not in direct touch with customers should have this written on their desks or monitors because sales teams and revenues are the basis of success.

In today’s parlance, being disruptive is usually a positive adjective. But is disrupting always good? When do we say the converse, that a system or structure has ‘withstood the test of time’? Can you articulate to our readers when disrupting an industry is positive, and when disrupting an industry is ‘not so positive’? Can you share some examples of what you mean?

Disruption usually means change and people, by nature, typically don’t like change. Some people use disruption to “negate” some way of doing things and want to do things differently at any cost so they can personally benefit from it. But I believe that’s not how this concept should be taken and executed since that’s the opposite of a positive approach.

Disruption should be linked with a path to achieve a selected target. Disruption should be the result of a needed change and not the cause of it.

Take for example our portfolio AI system. We developed it as an answer to today’s information and news flow problem.

Can you share five of the best words of advice you’ve gotten along your journey? Please give a story or example for each.

  1. Think positively: Never think about why something doesn’t work, instead, think about how to make it work.
  2. Focus on the customer: Without revenues, you do not have a business.
  3. Prepare for a black swan event: You need to be ready for a new obstacle to arise at any moment.
  4. Manage your time: Work, private life, and sleep should always be balanced.
  5. Team: Find people that excel in areas you do not and people who move you forward.

We are sure you aren’t done. How are you going to shake things up next?

Livento Group becoming public is a big step ahead for us and is enabling us to develop and grow our projects more quickly. I believe our revenues can be tripled within the next several years since our projects have the potential to grow and the right business model to succeed in the market. Our target is to uplist Livento within the exchanges so we can reach a wider investor audience and become an interesting partner for corporate clients. We plan to grow our revenues by establishing new offices and targeting new clients in the US.

We have one more ongoing IPO project under Livento and a venture project that we will announce in the next couple of months, which is focused on green personal transportation.

Do you have a book, podcast, or talk that’s had a deep impact on your thinking? Can you share a story with us? Can you explain why it was so resonant with you?

When I was very young, I often read books about the universe and people climbing the highest peaks of the Himalayas. Both have a few points in common, which I am employing now: if you want something, you need to work on it so it can happen, you will never solve a problem without finding the cause, and the distance to a final goal is what matters.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

I like a quote from Henry Ford, “Thinking is the hardest work there is, which is probably the reason so few engage in it.” We all are at work or home under a constant deluge of events and new information and need to find a way to not become totally absorbed with it. Especially at work, the operational part of a job can often fill a whole day easily. But what’s important is to sit down for 20 minutes and think about questions such as “How did I help today in regard to short-, mid-and long-term goals?”, “Is my time being used properly?”, and “How can I move forward faster toward my goals (not dreams)?”

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

I believe that everyone should try to find where they belong and create some good in that space. With billions of people on the planet, everyone can make a change, even a small one, to have a positive impact on the climate or technological advances, for example. As you can see with Livento, we are building new AI systems and brands like BOXO, and we want people to be part of it so we can all benefit in one way or another.

How can our readers follow you online?

You can follow me on my LinkedIn page and also follow Livento’s work on the company’s website, LinkedIn page and Twitter page.

This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for joining us!


Meet The Disruptors: David Štýbr Of Livento Group On The Five Things You Need To Shake Up Your… was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

Patrick Dorn Of Mills-Winfield: Five Things You Need To Build A Trusted And Beloved Brand

An Interview With Fotis Georgiadis

Bring value to your client — Customers need ideas, not just products. Solutions are important!

As part of our series about how to create a trusted, believable, and beloved brand, I had the pleasure to interview Patrick Dorn.

Patrick Dorn Mills-Winfield Engineering Sales, Inc. Longtime sales and engineering experience in the mixer and agitator markets, for varied industries. Degreed Chemical Engineer.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?

I started in the industrial wastewater market developing systems for industrial wastewater treatment markets. Some of our systems utilized small mixers, which were supplied by Mills-Winfield, for these treatment systems. They were incredibly reliable, and when I was looking at a new career path an opening at LIGHTNIN Mixers was available for aftermarket sales in the Midwest. After about 13 years there, an opening at Mills-Winfield, who is the LIGHTNIN representative, became available so I joined Mills-Winfield. It was more rewarding solving customer’s issues with a more direct approach here.

Can you share a story about the funniest marketing mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

Keeping the customer informed is the most important aspect of marketing. I do remember forgetting to tell a customer of a new development in a product that would aid them in their processing/manufacturing. They happened to see it somewhere else and asked me about it. I forgot that it would be useful for them. Fortunately, they saw it and we changed course in solving their problem. But it reminded me — always keep your customers informed.

What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?

Mills-Winfield stands out in experience. Our business has been around since 1930, and selling mixing equipment since 1950. Our team of sales engineers has many years of experience between the 4 of us, over 100 years combined.

Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?

Many of our projects touch people in ways that are important, be it from a pharmaceutical product, food product, water treatment, etc. Our products are the backbone to manufacturing important products people rely on in everyday life.

Ok let’s now jump to the core part of our interview. In a nutshell, how would you define the difference between brand marketing (branding) and product marketing (advertising)? Can you explain?

Brand marketing is the simple marketing of a brand. We provide more than that — our products are marketed to industries that need them. Products are marketed for what they can do for a specific industry and customer. The brand marketing is the reliability.

Can you explain to our readers why it is important to invest resources and energy into building a brand, in addition to the general marketing and advertising efforts?

Brands are what the customer expects in terms of performance — across the uses and industries we serve. Customers reward brands that are reliable and stand behind their products.

Can you share 5 strategies that a company should be doing to build a trusted and believable brand? Please tell us a story or example for each.

  1. Be accessible — answer your phone and respond to customer’s needs.
  2. Have a reliable product — time and money are wasted when you are simply fixing a product. Find a solution to improve your processes.
  3. Be honest — tell customers if there are delays and the truth as to why things are delayed. It lets th customer plan for the future.
  4. Bring value to your client — Customers need ideas, not just products. Solutions are important!
  5. Maintain consistency — make sure the customer’s needs are met and done correctly.

In your opinion, what is an example of a company that has done a fantastic job building a believable and beloved brand. What specifically impresses you? What can one do to replicate that?

In the machinery and equipment world, Caterpillar has made an excellent job of making a brand that is trusted with building unique solutions for customers. To replicate that, you must continue to innovate your products, along with keeping your quality standards.

In advertising, one generally measures success by the number of sales. How does one measure the success of a brand building campaign? Is it similar, is it different?

Brand building can measure success with the desire for customers to obtain that branded product, when alternatives are out there that are similar.

What role does social media play in your branding efforts?

Being active and authentic on social media is a required effort for success in almost any industry in todays information age. People want to see what the company is doing, what’s new and exciting, and who we are and they go to social media to find these answers. Knowing that, we are intentional about putting out a genuine picture of who we are and what we do to continue to build a trustworthy brand our current and future customers can rely on.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

Treat others as you would like to be treated. Don’t push the negative — find the positive.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

Always keep your customers informed, even if the news is not what they (or you) want to hear (or convey). Customers would rather hear from you than you ignore issues. I’ve had some deliveries that were not acceptable to either the customer or me. Conveying that information is not always easy, but it is important. People can’t plan without information.

We are blessed that very prominent leaders in business and entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world with whom you would like to have a lunch or breakfast with? He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them. 🙂

Elon Musk — developed technologies that are on the cutting edge of the future industries. Much of his success was due to innovation and research — which some companies forget to do when they get bigger. If you don’t innovate, you stagnate.

How can our readers follow you on social media?

We are available to follow through our website, www.mills-winfield.com, or on Linked-In, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. We post new products and uses for them on these pages.

Thank you so much for joining us. This was very inspirational.


Patrick Dorn Of Mills-Winfield: Five Things You Need To Build A Trusted And Beloved Brand was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.